Here's a look at just how much COVID-19 hospitalizations cost

Medical bill healthcare cost price patient spending
A new analysis from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association looks at the costs associated with COVID-19 hospitalizations. (Getty/everydayplus)

New data from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) take a look at just how much COVID-19 cases are costing insurers.

BCBSA studied more than 90,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus pulled from a diverse selection of its membership. The group found COVID-19 cases treated in an outpatient setting cost between $500 and $1,000 per member on average, with the average age of patients seeking such care being 34.

When members were hospitalized with the virus, however, costs were 45 times higher than for cases treated on an outpatient basis. For members who needed a stay in the intensive care unit, costs jumped another 2.5 times compared to other hospitalizations, BCBSA found.

The average age for members hospitalized with COVID-19, including in the ICU, was 54, according to the analysis.

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The analysis also examined how high-risk conditions impacted the severity of COVID-19 cases. Of the members included in the study, 23,800—or 26%—had a high-risk condition such as diabetes, obesity, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney disease or heart disease.

Those members, according to the study, were four times more likely to be hospitalized than people without high-risk conditions. They were also twice as likely to be hospitalized in the ICU.

Costs per admission for members with high-risk conditions were 30% higher than those for members without such conditions, BCBSA found.

“While the data confirms COVID-19 patients with high-risk conditions were more likely to be hospitalized, it also reinforces the importance of following COVID-19 protections and underscores the benefits of taking the COVID-19 vaccine," Mark Talluto, vice president of strategy and analytics, told Fierce Healthcare.

"To help with this, BCBS companies around the country are supporting COVID-19 vaccine efforts in their local communities through a range of assistance—including covering the cost of COVID-19 vaccination with no cost-sharing to members, providing medically trained staff to assist in inoculations and even offering retail centers and other facilities as sites where people can get vaccinated," Talluto said.