By Consumers for Quality Care, on April 28, 2021
According to The New York Times, in April 2020, when the pandemic was just beginning, John Druschitz spent five days in a Texas hospital after experiencing a fever and shortness of breath. Doctors suspected coronavirus, but multiple molecular tests came back negative. Druschitz did, however, test positive for antibodies.
The day Druschitz entered the hospital, he was 23 days away from turning 65 and qualifying for Medicare, and had mistakenly terminated his private health plan one month early.
“My whole life I had insurance except this one month when all this happened,” he said.
Doctors found he had an irregular heartbeat and blood clots in both of his lungs. He was sent home on oxygen without a coronavirus diagnosis, which prevented him from gaining access to the COVID-19 Uninsured Program.
Months later, in the fall, Druschitz received a $22,367.81 bill. This was after receiving a 40 percent uninsured discount.
“It shows the insanity of having a health care system where literally the clinical diagnosis determines whether someone is going to get bankrupted,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the public health school at Brown University.
The hospital did send him a letter less than a week after he was discharged offering help to apply for medical assistance since he was uninsured, but Druschitz hadn’t received a bill yet. When the bill arrived six months later, he was told the offer had expired.
He’s now working with a patient advocate who’s asking the hospital to re-evaluate his diagnosis. But hospitals only have one year to submit to the uninsured fund, meaning the hospital would have to file for reimbursement within the next six weeks.