World / Science & Health

U.S. COVID-19 survivor receives $1.1 million hospital bill

AFP-JIJI

A 70-year-old American man who nearly died of COVID-19 has been billed a stunning $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 totaling $1,122,501.04, he told the newspaper.

That includes: $9,736 per day for the intensive care room, nearly $409,000 for its transformation into a sterile room for 42 days, $82,000 for the use of a ventilator for 29 days, and nearly $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 socializing 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 $100 million budget to compensate hospitals and private insurance companies that treated COVID-19 patients.

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