Report: Treating uninsured, complex Covid costs more than $334k in Washington


Aaron Kunkler


It costs $334,224 to pay for uninsured complex inpatient treatment for COVID-19 in Washington State, which is one of the highest rates in the country. 

A new dashboard created by FAIR Health outlines costs of both in- and out-of-network charges for different levels of COVID treatment on a state-by-state level. The average charge value for complex inpatient treatment for out-of-network care in Washington State was more than $334,000, making it the 11th most expensive state to receive such care. 


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Complex inpatient treatment includes care where a patient requires ventilation or admission to the ICU (intensive care unit). Noncomplex inpatient care includes cost for patients who are admitted to the hospital but don’t require a ventilator or ICU care. The average outpatient cost for noncomplex inpatient, out-of-network patients was more than $80,000 in Washington State. 

For outpatient treatment, the average charge was more than $2,246 for out-of-network coverage. 

A breakdown of the costs can be seen in the image below. 

The dashboard also includes information on allowed values for in-network treatment. The average allowed value for in-network care for complex inpatient treatment in Washington was roughly $108,000. For noncomplex treatment it was nearly $33,600. For outpatient treatment it was $959. 

According to the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation, most private insurers are no longer waiving cost sharing for COVID treatment. A brief from August found that the majority of large insurers in each state were no longer waiving treatment costs, and nearly every plan is set to terminate cost waiving by March 2022, at the latest. 

It’s a departure from the early days of the pandemic, when the brief found that 88% of people who were enrolled in fully-insured private health plans had no out of pocket costs from COVID hospitalization. The brief stated this could have been due to fear of a federal mandate to cover COVID costs, or a desire to be sympathetic to patients. 

The brief found that the typical deductible in employer health plans is $1,644, and enrollees hospitalized with pneumonia, which required similar treatment, paid an average of $1,300 in out of pocket costs. However, the total costs for COVID treatment are much higher, with unvaccinated hospitalizations costing the U.S. health system $2.3 billion in June and July 2021, the brief states.