US COVID-19 survivor receives USD1.1M hospital bill

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A 70-year-old American man who nearly died of COVID-19 has been billed a heart-stopping USD1.1 million for his hospital expenses, the Seattle Times reported Saturday.

Michael Flor was admitted to a hospital in the northwestern city on March 4, and stayed for 62 days – at one point coming so close to death that nurses held up the phone so his wife and children could say goodbye.

But he recovered and was discharged on May 5 to the cheers of nursing staff – only to receive a 181-page bill totalling USD1,122,501.04, he told the newspaper.

That includes: USD9,736 per day for the intensive care room (ICU), nearly USD409,000 for its transformation into a sterile room for 42 days, USD82,000 for the use of a ventilator for 29 days, and nearly USD100,000 for two days when his prognosis was life-threatening.

Flor is covered by Medicare, a government insurance programme for the elderly, and should not have to take out his wallet, according to the Times.

But in a country where health care is among the most expensive in the world – and the idea of socialising it remains hugely controversial – he said he feels “guilty” knowing that taxpayers will bear much of the cost.

“It was a million bucks to save my life, and of course I’d say that’s money well-spent… But I also know I might be the only one saying that,” the Times quoted him
as saying.

File photo shows Chief Scientific Officer Dr Jeff Drew holding samples of the potential oral vaccine for the COVID-19 illness that are being tested for temperature stability in the Stabilitech laboratory in Burgess Hill south east England. PHOTO: AFP