When your health insurance premium goes up, blame your unvaccinated neighbor

When your health insurance premium goes up, blame your unvaccinated neighbor

Antivax Republicans are calling for an economic boycott—”MASS NON-COMPLIANCE” to “end this tyranny”—of vaccine mandates. That includes leaving their jobs, boycotting stores and restaurants, etc. They need to add to that list that they refuse medical care if they get sick, the logical conclusion of COVID-19 denial. Of course, that’s not happening, and of course, hospitals can’t refuse them when they show up at the door.

The COVID-19 pandemic has cost the U.S. health system billions, but the preventable pandemic is what threatens to break it. In just two months—June and July of 2021—hospitalizing unvaccinated adults cost the health care system $2.3 billion. Two months. Two-plus billion. By “health care system,” that means everyone who pays taxes and everyone who pays health insurance premiums, including employers.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which conducted the analysis with the Peterson Center on Healthcare, 28% of adults over 18 have refused to get the free vaccination to avoid catching COVID-19. The study uses Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) data, which can’t differentiate between those who can’t get the vaccine for medical reasons and those who are simply refusing to be vaccinated for whatever reason (i.e., being a white Republican under age 50).

KFF estimates that the average COVID-19 hospitalization cost is around $20,000, with Medicare costs slightly higher and private insurer costs marginally lower. The CDC data indicates 113,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations in June and July—again, among unvaccinated adults. Data from May and June determined that 98.3% of the COVID-19 hospitalizations were unvaccinated people. Each of those, costing an average of $20,000, is how they ended up at $2.3 billion.

That’s just a ballpark figure for the direct costs to the health care system in two months. It’s going to be a lot worse for August because hospitalizations have soared this month. Florida alone is overwhelmed with hospitalizations and deaths. There is just a 48-hour supply of oxygen for 68 of the state’s hospitals. They are literally unable to keep up with the deaths.

Meanwhile, Republican governors like Florida’s Ron DeSantis are spreading the disease with their policies. They’re killing people. And they are breaking everything, starting with those people we were all celebrating every night in the first months of this pandemic.

“Mississippi now has at least 2,000 fewer nurses than it did at the beginning of the year, ….. The staff shortages add to the growing strain on the state’s hospital system — both due, in large part, to the Covid-19 pandemic.” 2/

— Jennifer Cohn ✍🏻 📢 (@jennycohn1) August 26, 2021

Thankfully, those frontline workers in hospitals now have the protection of the vaccine. They’re not having to reuse their masks and gowns and put their lives at risk for lack of essential protective gear. That’s all good, but now they are fighting a preventable disease and are facing something even harder—empathy fatigue. The battle before was against the pandemic. The struggle for them now is against the fact that they’re back in the war because a bunch of assholes decided they don’t want to be responsible members of society.

Not only are they having to try to save the lives of those people—the ones who have been giving the entire medical profession the finger—they’re being hindered from helping all the other people requiring health care. They have to turn patients away, and not just for elective, non-emergency care. Patients with emergencies like heart attacks and strokes have been turned away. Very ill people have to be flown out of high-infection rate areas for care in other states. 

There is no option for health care providers. They cannot refuse patients, even while they’re dealing with this:

This is how I know COVID is going to get worse. There are adults – and parents of children – who not only refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine but also REFUSE TO GET TESTED IN ER or let THEIR CHILDREN GET TESTED IN THE ER. They don’t care if they have it or are spreading it.

— Nick Sawyer, MD, MBA, FACEP (@NickSawyerMD) August 25, 2021

The Affordable Care Act means that people who refuse vaccines can’t be denied insurance or charged what they cost to the system in their premiums. Under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, federal law requires that any hospital patient in need of emergency care be treated—no matter what, even the danger they willfully pose to everyone around them. 

That’s not to say that the medical profession isn’t exploring how far they can go in protecting themselves and their colleagues in refusing to treat unvaccinated people. But when they show up at a hospital emergency room, there’s no choice. That’s not going to change, but it will also do tremendous damage to the whole system and every provider involved.

This content was originally published here.

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