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Monday, September 13, 2021

The cost of ignorance

Medicare bills for unvaccinated surpass $2 billion for June and July alone

Walter Einenkel, Daily Kos Staff

There are myriad reasons people should get vaccinated. For one, it is safer than catching COVID-19. For two, if you are vaccinated and do contract COVID-19, the more severe and potentially harmful outcomes of your illness are greatly reduced. 

For three, you add greater protection to those around you, in your home and community, who are not able to get the vaccine. The sooner people can slow and stop the widespread availability of the virus, the sooner it can be brought under control.

But if protecting yourself and others from a deadly virus doesn’t appeal to you and you are still on the fence about getting vaccinated, just think with your pocketbook. According to CNN, who analyzed health care costs to Medicare of both the vaccine and hospitalizations, the cost differential is enormous. 

In fact, on average, it costs about 150 times more to end up hospitalized with COVID-19 than it does to get fully vaccinated (two shots of Pfizer or Moderna, or one shot of J&J), which costs you nothing because it’s subsidized.

Using reimbursement numbers from Medicare to health care providers, CNN reports that the most Medicare pays out for two doses of the vaccine is $150. Each dose is $40, and the cost of administering each shot is $35. 

On the other hand, “the average cost to hospitalize a Medicare beneficiary with COVID-19 is $21,752 over an average stay of 9.2 days.” An emergency room visit to get treated, even if you are not hospitalized, is considerably more expensive than getting the vaccine would be if you had to pay for it.

These numbers do not include the emotional costs to our medical care givers

According to the Annals of Internal Medicine, from which CNN obtained its numbers, the average costs of ending up on a ventilator or dying were even higher. Being on a ventilator averaged out to 17.1 days spent in the hospital and $49,441 in costs—almost 300 times more than getting jabbed twice over the span of a month. 

The average length of hospitalization for people who died of COVID-19 was 11.3 days, with costs of $32,015—more than 200 times the cost to Medicare of the vaccine. There are a couple of other studies with varying numbers, but all of those numbers are in the same vicinity—with average costs ranging between $17,000 and $24,000.

This makes sense if you understand elementary school math. Having two elementary school-aged children, you can think of me as the Alan Turing of elementary school math. During the ill-advised and unbelievably dangerous South Dakota Sturgis Motorcycle rally held in August of 2020—when no vaccine was available—researchers estimated the super spreader event cost the public, in medical bills over time, around $12 billion. 

This analysis puts into perspective the approximately “100,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations among unvaccinated adults” between June and July this summer at an estimated cost of about $2 billion to our health care system.

The Washington Post reported today that according to one newly published major study, “People who were not fully vaccinated this spring and summer were more than 10 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 11 times more likely to die of covid-19, than those who were fully vaccinated.”

Keep in mind that these numbers don’t take into account other insurance outside of Medicare. They don’t take into account that so far, studies have shown the chances of becoming someone with long-term effects from the virus (something that traditional media has termed “long-haulers”) is very small if you are already vaccinated and still catch the virus. 

Also, an added bonus is that once fully vaccinated, your chance of ending up in the hospital if you catch a breakthrough case drops considerably. 

Billions of people have been vaccinated in the world. The “guinea pig” schtick is lazy thinking and a scam.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party, which made cuts to Medicare and Medicaid after giving away $1.5 trillion to the rich in tax breaks, is still trying to figure out ways to “cut costs” on Medicare by … raising the age of Medicare recipients to 69. So they promote anti-vaxx misinformation, promote vaccine hesitancy, and then whine about the costs of Medicare. 

Their end game is a donor class in control of our health care, choosing who and who not to save based on the businesses’ own bottom lines. So far, during this pandemic, it’s only cost the Republican Party 650,000 Americans’ lives. 

There is no medical treatment or vaccine or drug or procedure for anything that guarantees 100 percent effectiveness. But one thing is clear. Medicine guarantees us a fighting chance against the maladies for which they are prescribed. If you haven’t already, go and get that vaccine so you and those around you can have a fighting chance.