Why Ebola treatment is so expensive

Even as the Ebola outbreak begins to ebb, the cost of treating the virus can be as high as $50,000 a day, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Several expenses before treatment even begins contribute to the virus' astronomical cost, including:

Quarantines: Several states imposed mandatory quarantines on travelers arriving from West African countries affected by the virus, even those displaying no symptoms. These quarantines contribute about $1,000 a day to the cost of treatment, a figure that includes police escorts and food delivery but not lost wages. Isolation for Ebola patients in hospital settings drives prices even more, sometimes upwards of $15,000 a day, Andrew Fitch, a healthcare pricing expert at NerdWallet, told U.S. News.

Labor: The large number of medical workers necessary to treat Ebola patients drives the cost of Ebola as well, according to the article. For example, 50 Texas Health Presbyterian workers cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with the virus in America, for the nine days between his diagnosis and his death. The number of workers also led to extra time for tasks, such as applying and removing personal protective equipment, which requires a sterile room adjacent to the patient's room as well as another staffer to observe the process. Duncan's treatment may have cost the facility as much as $500,000.

Treatment costs vary according to location, however, according to Bloomberg. For example, the costs of treatment in Texas have come to under $3 million (a figure that includes $27,000 to monitor an infected nurse's dog, according to the Star-Telegram) compared to $21 million in New York City, where Craig Spencer, M.D., was treated. New York's John F. Kennedy Airport is one of the five in the U.S. designated for screening arrivals from the Ebola zone; Dallas has no such airport, which may contribute to the lower costs.  

Concerns over the virus affect hospitals that have yet to receive any Ebola patients as well; for example, University of Kansas Medical Center's preparatory measures cost more than $100,000, FierceHealthFinance previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the U.S. News article
- here's the Bloomberg article
- check out the Star-Telegram article

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