Feb 25, 2020 - Health

How a coronavirus scare can lead to surprise medical bills

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

A man in Miami went to the hospital to receive a test for the coronavirus after developing flu-like symptoms, only to receive the news that he didn't have it — and a $3,270 medical bill, the Miami Herald reports.

Why it matters: The man had just returned from a work trip to China, so took his symptoms more seriously than normal, which is exactly what public health experts want people to do.

  • Our thought bubble: The episode would be a great parody of the health care system, if it wasn't real.

The man has a short-term health insurance plan, which usually have skimpy benefits in exchange for lower premiums, and don't have to cover pre-existing conditions. The Trump administration has expanded them.

  • The hospital told the Herald that the patient is only on the hook for $1,400 based on his insurance, but his insurer told him that first, he must provide three years of medical records to prove that his flu didn't relate to pre-existing conditions.
  • And more bills are probably coming.

The kicker: The patient works at a medical device company that doesn't offer health insurance to its employees.

Go deeper: Employers, not patients, have the most health insurance choices

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