Seattle man beats coronavirus, then gets stunning $1.1 million hospital bill
Seattle resident Michael Flor, known as the longest-hospitalised Covid-19 patient, has now been dubbed a million-dollar baby after he received the enormous bill from the hospital for his battle with coronavirus recently, the Seattle Times reported on Friday.
Not only did Flor survive the infection, he ran up a huge tab amounting to nearly $1.1 million-- Rs 8.1411 crore and was saddled with a bill that resembled a book since it ran into an astounding 181 pages.
The 70-year-old, hospitalised for the longest time, nearly had a brush with death one night when he was suffering from the deadly pathogen. A night-shift nurse was sympathetic and held a phone to his ear while his wife and children bid him goodbye. But Flor survived. His recovery prompted those around him to call him the miracle child.
But there was more in store for Flor as he found out when he got his hospital bill at his home in West Seattle. He says his heart almost failed a second time when he saw the amount that his healthcare sojourn had cost him.
The total tab for his bout with the coronavirus was $1.1 million—an estimated Rs 8.1411 crore. The bill also ran into 181 pages.
The bill is technically an explanation of charges, and because Flor has insurance he won’t have to pay the majority of it. In fact, because he had Covid-19, and not a different disease, he might not have to pay anything at all.
For now though Flor is stunned and his family and friends have been left wondering at the extreme expense and completely bizarre economics of the American healthcare system.
The elderly man was hospitalised at the Swedish Medical Center in Issaquah with Covid-19 for 62 days, so he knew the bill would be a lot. He was unconscious for much of his stay there, but once near the beginning of his illness, his wife Elisa Del Rosario remembers him waking up and saying, “You gotta get me out of here, we can’t afford this.”
Just the charge for his room in the intensive care unit was billed at $9,736 per day. Due to the contagious nature of the virus, the room was sealed and could only be entered by medical workers wearing plastic suits and headgear. For 42 days he was in this isolation chamber, for a total cost of $408,912.
He was also put on a mechanical ventilator for 29 days, with the use of the machine billed at $2,835 per day, for a total of $82,215. About a quarter of the bill is for the expenses incurred on drugs.
This list of expenses tells the story of Flor’s battle and the battle waged against the infection for many like him. Not all of whom can afford it.
For the two days when his heart, kidneys and lungs were all failing, indicating multiple organ failure—often the case in coronavirus-- and he was closest to death, the bill runs for 20 pages and totals nearly $100,000. The doctors, it seems “were throwing everything at me they could think of,” Flor says.
In all, there are nearly 3,000 itemized charges, about 50 per day. Usually hospitals get paid only a portion of the amount they bill, as most have negotiated discounts with insurance companies. The charges don’t include the two weeks of recuperating he did in a rehab facility.
Speaking about his feelings, Flor said he was surprised at his own reaction after being handed the hospital bill--which was guilt. The guilt of the survivor.
“I feel guilty about surviving,” he says. “There’s a sense of ‘why me?’ Why did I deserve all this? Looking at the incredible cost of it all definitely adds to that survivor’s guilt.”