US Covid-19 survivor receives US$1.1 mil hospital bill

A Covid-19 patient is moved by healthcare workers at a medical centre in New York last month. (AP pic)

WASHINGTON: A 70-year-old American man who nearly died of Covid-19 has been billed a heart-stopping US$1.1 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 US$1,122,501.04, he told the newspaper.

That includes: US$9,736 per day for the intensive care room, nearly US$409,000 for its transformation into a sterile room for 42 days, US$82,000 for the use of a ventilator for 29 days, and nearly US$100,000 for two days when his prognosis was life-threatening.

Flor is covered by Medicare, a government insurance program 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.

A gigantic plan adopted by Congress to keep the American economy afloat through the coronavirus shutdowns includes a US$100 million budget to compensate hospitals and private insurance companies that treated Covid-19 patients.