Arm And A Leg

Man Survives Coronavirus, Gets $1.1 Million Hospital Bill

He hopefully won't have to actually pay it — but the sticker price shows the staggering cost of the pandemic.

6. 15. 20 / Dan Robitzski
Victor Tangermann
Image by Victor Tangermann

Michael Flor, a COVID-19 survivor who holds the unfortunate record for the longest hospital stay linked to the pandemic, just got nailed with the bill. And in a horrifying indictment of the for-profit U.S. healthcare system, the hospital charged more than $1 million for his treatment.

The 181-page itemized bill — that’s longer than Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” — comes to a total of $1,122,501.04, The Seattle Times reports.

Flor likely won’t have to actually pay the bill, thanks to insurance and government assistance, but its staggering size helps give a sense of the extraordinary cost and magnitude of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the health care system.

The bill reportedly includes over 3,000 items from Flor’s 62-day stay at Swedish Medical Center in Issaquah, Washington. Over a third of the bill — $408,912 — is just for room and board in a sealed-off intensive care unit room. Another $82,215 comes from the 29 days that Flor was intubated with a ventilator.

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“I feel guilty about surviving,” Flor told The Seattle Times. “There’s a sense of ‘why me?’ Why did I deserve all this? Looking at the incredible cost of it all definitely adds to that survivor’s guilt.”

With Medicare coverage, Flor would normally be responsible for just $6,000 of the bill, The Seattle Times reports. But due to the financial support Congress gave hospitals to help cover COVID-19 expenses, even that small portion might be waived for Flor.

That support, however, raises serious questions about the healthcare system’s priorities. Slate‘s David Lat wrote last week that his coronavirus treatment costs were also waived — while cancer patients are still being saddled with devastating bills.

“What you pay as a patient shouldn’t depend, in essence, on whether your disease has a good publicist,” Lat wrote.

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