By Deidre McPhillips, Amanda Sealy and Dakin Andone, CNN
A Medicare beneficiary hospitalized with Covid-19 costs the health insurance program about 150 times more than it does to fully vaccinate that individual, a CNN analysis shows.
Covid-19 vaccines are provided at no direct cost to residents of the United States, but Medicare reimburses health care providers up to $150 to fully vaccinate beneficiaries with both doses of the two-dose regimen vaccines by Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna, per billing documents published by the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That’s $40 for each dose administered and $35 to administer the shots at the individual’s home or group living setting.
Meantime, the average cost to hospitalize a Medicare beneficiary with Covid-19 is $21,752 over an average stay of 9.2 days, according to research published in August in the Annals of Internal Medicine. That’s approximately 145 times the cost of vaccinating a Medicare beneficiary.
Average fees associated with Covid-19 hospitalization were even higher if a patient needed a ventilator, bringing the cost to an average of $49,441 over 17.1 days — more than 300 times the cost of administering the vaccines.
Covid-19 hospitalizations in the United States are climbing again following a summer surge fueled by the Delta variant. In June and July, there were over 100,000 preventable Covid-19 hospitalizations among unvaccinated adults, an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed.
Assuming each cost about $20,000, the analysis said, these hospitalizations cost the country’s health system more than $2 billion, underscoring just how crucial vaccinations are to the fight against the coronavirus.
There are nearly 102,000 Covid-19 patients hospitalized across the country, per data from US Health and Human Services, with more than 25,800 patients in intensive care unit beds.
“We know the pathway to end this pandemic,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN’s Jim Acosta Wednesday. “That’s getting vaccinated.”
According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 53% of all Americans are fully vaccinated, while nearly 27% of the eligible population — people 12 and older — are not vaccinated. The current 7-day average of vaccinations initiated per day dropped 19% from last week and 30% from a month earlier, the data shows, though that could be due in part to the Labor Day holiday weekend.
Murthy pointed to other respiratory viruses like those that cause the common cold that we are able to live with, saying, “What’s different from those viruses and Delta is that they don’t cost us the types of numbers that we see in terms of lives lost, in terms of hospitalizations.”
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CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas contributed to this report.