California woman who contracted COVID-19 charged $1.3M in medical expenses

Sveral insurance companies have waived out-of-pocket expenses during the pandemic

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A California woman reportedly had a brush with death amid her battle with COVID-19 last year. As her road to recovery continues, she is now dealing with over a million dollars in medical expenses. 

Patricia Mason of Sacramento was hospitalized from March 28 to April 20, during which she received treatment at two different hospitals. Months after she was released, Mason received a medical bill totaling $1,339,181.94, she told the Los Angeles Times.

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The woman’s insurance, Blue Shield of California, covered a majority of the bill, but she still owes  $42,184.20 for out-of-network costs, according to the report. Mason said it is unlikely she will ever pay off the debt. 

“I don’t have $42,000 to spare,” Mason said. She and her husband reportedly have five jobs between them. “We’re at the point where we’re trying to make it through the next 15 years, so hopefully we can one day retire…. I am lucky enough to be alive, so we take that into consideration. But the reality is I don’t have [the money]. It’s not going to happen.”

Mason’s hospital costs reportedly break down as follows: $479,162.40 for her stay in the coronary care unit at NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield, 470,950.94 for pharmacy charges, and respiratory services cost $166,669.80, per the report. 

Meanwhile, several insurance companies have reportedly waived out-of-pocket expenses for their members’ COVID-19 treatment amid the pandemic. 

“The first issue is you’ve got COVID and you’re not feeling so great. Going to battle with the doctors and hospitals or health plan, there’s a huge power imbalance to begin with, let alone when you’re struggling with health issues,” said Sabrina Corlette, co-director of the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University. “Getting answers about why certain things are on the bill is almost impossible.”

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Mason’s bounce back from her COVID battle has not been without its challenges. According to the LA Times reports, she takes baby aspirin, and “anything that I’ve heard will help” curb her long-term side effects.  

“Every time I turn around, is this something that’s related to COVID and is it something that’s going to last forever?” she said. “And nobody knows.”

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