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Our take on Michigan insurers: “Another COVID-19 surge? Sounds like a ‘you’ problem…”

Michigan insurers are sunsetting COVID-19 cost waivers, per an August 18 read.

We sure hope you’re vaccinated, Michiganders! (And hope you don’t catch a breakthrough infection, despite your best efforts.) Your state’s two largest carriers are sunsetting COVID-19 cost waivers.

You heard that right. Although another wave of COVID-19 is cresting, top insurers in Michigan—we’re talking to you, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Priority Health—have decided to make it harder for patients to access care. These providers are letting their programs—which waived all fees for patients treated for COVID-19—wash away with the tide.

According to a recent article in Modern Healthcare, starting October 1, Michiganders who contract COVID-19 and who are treated for the infection will now face co-pays and treatment bills.

Just how much will patients have to pay? Per a Blue Cross study, COVID-19 treatment in the ICU costs an average $22,500 to $45,000. That means patients could see bills as high as $13,500. Despite a statewide unemployment rate of 4.8% as of July 2020, Michigan’s top insurers don’t seem to care that many of their own will be unable to pay for treatment for a deadly disease.

We can almost understand where the providers are coming from—insurers generally cover very little, if anything, at no cost to patients. Even things like preventive care, which reduce costs in the long run, had to be mandated by law, so why would they want to keep covering COVID-19 treatment in full, forever? Still…is now the best time to get miserly?

And while we do hope this new policy encourages vaccinations, we don’t wish hospitalizations or surprise bills on anyone. Can these two carriers say the same?

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