Health insurance plans absorb hefty medical bills for COVID patients

Health insurance plans absorb hefty medical bills for COVID patients
Hawaii hospital/FILE (Source: HNN)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - For those with severe cases of COVID-19, hospital stays can last weeks or even months. And that can mean significant medical costs.

Coby Torda spent 69 days in the hospital and the bills quickly added up.

“It was kind of alarming, It felt like a dark cloud over my head,” Torda said, adding that before his health insurance kicked in the costs totaled nearl $1 million.

Aaron Mikami was also in a coma after contracting the virus.

His medical bills came out to about $200,000.

Both men have HMSA insurance, which is working with them to bring the costs down to zero.

“For the three biggest payers, Medicare, for that federal program, our state’s Medicaid program and HMSA’s commercial line, we don’t charge co-pays to anybody for COVID related illness,” said Dr. Mark Mugiishi, HMSA president and CEO. And other plans are doing the same.

Mikami said he is grateful that the plan is willing to help.

“The aloha that all the hospitals, the insurance carriers, that they have for each other, especially during a time like this,” he said.

For those still receiving bills for co-pays, the health plans suggest calling them to discuss appeal options. They don’t want anyone to ignore care for fear of costs.

“If you are sick or think you’re positive don’t hesitate, go get yourself checked,” said Torda, “You can worry about the bills after. Your health is your number one priority.”

If patients are still receiving bills for co-pays, Mugiishi said the reason could be the provider did not specify that the treatment was related to COVID-19. That can be sorted out during an appeal.

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