Better Solutions for Healthcare

COVID-19 care could cost billions, new estimates show

By Anuja Vaidya

April 24, 2020

Caring for COVID-19 patients could cost the U.S. healthcare system hundreds of billions of dollars, a new study estimates.

The study, published in Health Affairs, used a simulation model, representing the U.S. population and the clinical care each coronavirus patient may need, such as ventilation. Researchers estimated resource use and direct medical costs per infection.

One symptomatic COVID-19 infection would cost a median of $3,045 in direct medical costs during the course of the infection alone, researchers found.

They estimated that if 80 percent percent of the U.S. population got infected, there would be a median of 44.6 million hospitalizations, 10.7 million ICU admissions and 6.5 million ventilators used, costing about $654 billion in direct costs during the pandemic.

But if 20 percent of the population became infected, a median of 11.2 million hospitalizations and 1.6 million ventilators used would cost about $163.4 billion.

The direct medical cost on average of a COVID-19 infection is four times that of a symptomatic influenza case ($696), researchers found.