AP Photo/Mic Smith
Danni Askini tested positive for coronavirus after three trips to the ER and was billed nearly $35,000 for her tests and treatment.
Now recovered, Askini has applied for Medicaid and is hoping the program will retroactively cover her bills.
The US government has since passed a law that makes coronavirus testing free, but treatment can still be expensive.
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In February, Danni Askini started feeling chest pain, shortness of breath, and a migraine. She’d been undergoing treatment for lymphoma, so she called her oncologist to talk about her new symptoms.
The doctor told her to go to the emergency room, suspecting a possible issue with her new medication, Askini told Time Magazine.
Doctors at the Boston-area hospital told her she likely had pneumonia and sent her home. In the days that followed, her temperature wavered sharply and she developed a concerning cough.
After two more trips to the ER, she was finally tested for coronavirus.
Three days later, the results came back positive, she told Time.
Then the bill came: $34,927.43.
“I was pretty sticker-shocked,” Askini told Time’s Abigail Abrams. “I personally don’t know anybody who has that kind of money.”
Askini, who has been active on Twitter about her diagnosis, tweeted on March 14 that she had recovered from the coronavirus and flu. She also applied for Medicaid and is hoping the program will cover her bills retroactively, according to Time. At the time, she was uninsured, waiting for her new job to begin.
Since Askini’s hospital visits, the US government has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which provides free coronavirus testing.
Still, according to a recent analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation, patients could be on the hook for thousands in other expenses related to treatment, including the common ER visits, outpatient visits, and urgent care visits.
Kaiser estimated that the average cost of COVID-19 pneumonia treatment for someone with employer insurance would be about $9,763 if they didn’t have complications. If they did have issues during treatment, their bill could be around $20,292, according to the estimate.
The average cost for treatment for COVID-19 can cost thousands, according to an analysis from FAIR Health.
You don’t have to test positive for this pandemic to get expensive
You might not even have to test positive for COVID-19 to be financially burdened by the pandemic.
One Miami man who had traveled to China in February for work came home with flu symptoms.
Under normal circumstances, because he didn’t have high-quality insurance coverage, Osmel Martinez Azcue would have taken some over-the-counter medicine and waited it out, he told the Miami Herald.
Knowing that the coronavirus was a concern, he went to the ER to be screened. He didn’t get a coronavirus test, but was tested for the flu. That alone resulted in a $3,270 bill.
“How can they expect normal citizens to contribute to eliminating the potential risk of person-to-person spread if hospitals are waiting to charge us $3,270 for a simple blood test and a nasal swab?” Azcue told the Herald at the time.
The coronavirus has infected more than 14,250 in the US and killed at least 205.
Most who have the coronavirus will experience mild symptoms and not require hospitalization. Some may not even know they have it.
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