Aug 23, 2021 - Health

We're all going to pay for the unvaccinated

A doctor tending to a coronavirus patient at a hospital in Houston on Aug. 18.
A doctor tending to a coronavirus patient at a hospital in Houston on Aug. 18. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The spike in hospitalizations of unvaccinated adults — which are almost all preventable — cost the U.S. health system more than $2 billion in June and July, per a KFF analysis.

Why it matters: Those costs are ultimately shouldered by all of us, not just those who remain unvaccinated and then get severely ill.

By the numbers: A coronavirus hospitalization costs, on average, around $20,000.

  • Using CDC data, KFF estimated that there were around 37,000 preventable coronavirus hospitalizations among unvaccinated adults in June and another 76,000 in July.

Between the lines: Someone has to pay for these hospitalizations. Although COVID patients themselves may be on the hook for at least part of the bill, a large chunk of the tab will fall on either private or public insurers.

  • And health insurance isn't free — we all pay for it either through our premiums or our taxpayer dollars.
  • "In addition to preventable direct monetary costs for treatment of unvaccinated people, re-opening of schools and economic recovery also suffers as increasing COVID-19 cases continue to put Americans at risk of avoidable severe illness and even death," the analysis writes.

The bottom line: We're all paying for the unvaccinated, and the big question is how large we'll let the bill become.

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