If an Ebola pandemic hits American soil, the need for increased testing to detect the virus and the high cost to treat people who are infected could hit insurers hard.
Treating people with Ebola is very expensive; the costs for treating Thomas Eric Duncan, who was hospitalized and died from Ebola, are estimated around $1,000 an hour, amounting to almost $500,000 total, as FierceHealthFinance previously reported. However, Duncan was uninsured.
But the Insurance Information Institute, which released a fact sheet on Ebola's impact on the insurance industry, says the "cost of caring for Ebola cases would likely be at the high end of health insurance claims."
Health insurers could be dramatically affected if a large number of people are infected with Ebola. "Many people would need to be tested to see whether they have contracted the virus, and the cost of isolation of those affected could be substantial," it says.
Although it's unknown how many people in the United States could contract Ebola, the World Health Organization projects Ebola will infect 20,000 people in November, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned it could infect up to 1.4 million by January, FierceHealthcare previously reported.