US woman gets $34,927.43 bill for coronavirus treatment

A woman in the United States says she was billed $34,927.43 after being tested and treated for the coronavirus, Time magazine reports. 

When Danni Askini first came down with the symptoms of the virus — shortness of breath, a fever, a cough and migraines — she was told by a doctor to go to the emergency room. There, she was told she had pneumonia and could go home. She visited the emergency room two more times as her symptoms persisted and worsened before she was finally tested for the coronavirus. Three days later her results showed she had COVID-19. 

The tests and her treatment for the viral illness all took place while Askini was uninsured and before President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeSantis on Florida schools reopening: 'If you can do Walmart,' then 'we absolutely can do schools' NYT editorial board calls for the reopening of schools with help from federal government's 'checkbook' Mueller pens WaPo op-ed: Roger Stone 'remains a convicted felon, and rightly so' MORE signed congressional measures ensuring free diagnostic testing. After, she got a bill totaling $34,927.43. 

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“I was pretty sticker-shocked,” she told Time. “I personally don’t know anybody who has that kind of money.”

Askini was between jobs and planning to move and start a new role in Washington, D.C., when she was diagnosed with the virus, and has since applied for Medicaid in the hope it can retroactively cover her bill. She has now tested negative for COVID-19, but is still taking precautions to recover and isolate. 

On Twitter, Askini expressed her frustration with local health care agencies and described how difficult it was to get tested for COVID-19 despite having tests for the flu, strep throat and other illnesses come back negative.

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The story of her bill comes as the Kaiser Family Foundation has released a study predicting the average cost of coronavirus treatment for someone with insurance and without health complications would total around $9,763, and treatment for someone with complications could top $20,000. The amount someone with insurance would pay out-of-pocket varies depending on their plan, but the study estimates it could exceed $1,300. 

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Askini said the cost of the COVID-19 test alone was $907. 

Health care has been at the center of debate as the 2020 presidential election drags on. However, the topic has drawn even more attention as Americans fear how they will pay for potential coronavirus treatment when scientific estimates predict a massive number of people will be diagnosed during the pandemic.

On Thursday, California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomA nationwide response from an unusual place: City halls California, Florida, Texas report new single day high coronavirus death tolls Watch live: California Gov. Gavin Newsom holds coronavirus press briefing MORE (D) predicted 56 percent of his state would become infected with coronavirus over the next eight weeks alone should the state not make an effort to mitigate the spread. Other states are also bracing for high coronavirus numbers.

Meanwhile, many are already out of work and their health insurance entirely as the coronavirus has caused the closure of businesses nationwide. A major union representing hospitality workers predicted as many as 90 percent of its members could lose their jobs. Other companies like Marriott are already cutting workers.

Economists and Trump administration officials have said the U.S. could be heading to a recession, but lawmakers are scrambling to pass a stimulus package to possibly get checks into the hands of Americans and address the economic fallout of the pandemic.