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Infographic – U.S. Covid-19 Financial Burdens

Click on image for full-size view (CUNY, School of Public Health and Health Policy)

25 Apr. 2020. As Covid-19 cases continue to mount in the U.S., public health experts are beginning to calculate their enormous costs to the health care system. Researchers from the public health school at City University of New York tallied these costs in an article published on 23 April in the journal Health Affairs, with their findings shown in this weekend’s infographic.

The team of health policy and informatics experts at CUNY, in the city with the most severe outbreak of Covid-19, wrote a statistical model simulating continued spread of Covid-19 infections in the U.S. and the financial burdens that result. The researchers focused particularly on the numbers of Covid-19 patients developing severe forms of the disease requiring hospitalization, intensive care, and mechanical ventilation. Their computations show each Covid-19 patient with symptoms incurs a median of $3,045 in direct medical costs just during the course of the person’s infection.

Extrapolating these costs to the overall health care system shows staggering financial burdens. If the rate of Covid-19 infections across the U.S. can be kept to 20 percent of the population, the U.S. can expect to pay $214.5 billion in health care costs. Should the infection rate rise to 50 percent, those costs jump to nearly $409 billion. And if 80 percent of the population becomes infected, the costs escalate to $654 billion.

Bruce Lee, the paper’s senior author, says in a CUNY statement their analysis, “shows what may occur if social distancing measures were relaxed and the country were to be ‘re-opened’ too early.” Lee adds, “Such costs will affect the economy as well because someone will have to pay for them. Any economic argument for re-opening the country needs to factor in health care costs.”

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