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Health insurance changes coming with end of COVID-19 PHE


Analyst tallies numbers Medicaid enrollment and treatment costs across the 50 states.

The end of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) will bring financial changes for patients in the U.S. health care system.

Expanded Medicaid coverage is ending in 18 states where uninsured patients used Medicaid for COVID-19 treatment, according to a new analysis by ValuePenguin. The consumer finance research company started in 2013 and developed an online tool for patients to make side-by-side comparisons of health insurance costs.

From February 2020 to November last year, Medicaid enrollees grew by more than 21 million people, according to ValuePenguin. The company cited data from sources including the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, FAIR Health, and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

"Since the emergence of COVID-19, the U.S. has treated the disease as a public health emergency," ValuePenguin health insurance analyst Divya Sangameshwar said in the report. "That allows the federal government to access funds and resources to pay for tests, vaccines and health insurance for uninsured Americans.

“When the PHE ends, it’ll have a wide-ranging impact on many aspects of health care that Americans have come to take for granted since COVID-19 reared its ugly head,” Sangameshwar said. “This includes access to free vaccines, booster shots, tests and treatments, as well as health insurance coverage under Medicaid."

The 18 states with the temporary Medicaid coverage were Nevada, Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Mexico, Utah, Montana, Louisiana, Colorado, Maine, California, Illinois, Washington, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Iowa, Minnesota, and Rhode Island.

Treatment costs for COVID-19 patients could climb into the thousands. ValuePenguin analyzed various factors and prices among the 50 states and found treatment not requiring hospitalization costs an average of $2,557.

COVID-19 care requiring hospitalization, but not ventilation or intensive care, cost an average of $74,591. With ventilation or intensive care, the average cost is $317,810, with Nevada topping that list at $472,213, and Maryland at the bottom for $131,965.

Sangameshwar recommended patients get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible, and to seek out private health insurance or re-enrolling in Medicaid.

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Jennifer N. Lee, MD, FAAFP
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