Health insurers are no longer waiving COVID-19 co-pays for hospitalizations


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — In the early stages of the pandemic, the medical community didn’t know how to treat the hundreds of patients who were landing in hospitals with what was originally called a respiratory virus. We later learned the virus attacked everything from head to toe.

At that time and through the fall of last year, many insurers waived deductibles, co-pays, and other costs for insured patients who were diagnosed with COVID-19, according to Julian Walker, Vice President of Communications for The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association.

FILE – In this Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021 file photo, Medical notations are written on a window of a COVID-19 patient’s room in an intensive care unit at the Willis-Knighton Medical Center in Shreveport, La. Louisiana hospitals already packed with patients from the latest coronavirus surge are now bracing for a powerful Category 4 hurricane, which is expected to crash ashore Sunday, Aug. 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

Elective surgeries were put on hold, but not your insurance premiums.

“What that means was insurers were collecting more money in the form of premiums and they were not paying out nearly as many claims,” said Walker.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, over the past several months most of the nation’s major health insurance companies have started billing patients for COVID-19-related co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses.

“As we got into this year, 2021, we’ve seen increasing changes to the coverage for commercial insurers,” said Walker.

Those changes mean you could be charged a co-pay for the cost of COVID-19 hospitalization, which is estimated at $73,000, according to

How much of that total you will owe depends on a number of factors.

“It could be based on the number of employees from one organization to another. It could be based on how much each employer pays as a share of the premium cost of each covered life,” said Walker.

Health providers say this is one more reason to get the free and effective coronavirus vaccine.

( WAVY photo/Regina Mobley)

“If you are vaccinated, even if you contract COVID after getting the vaccine you are much more likely to have a more mild case or a case that does not require hospitalization,” said Walker.

The Virginia Department of Health has updated its vaccination guidelines to follow new recommendations from the CDC. Click here for details.

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Senatara COVID-19 Infographic (Dec. 2020)

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