Hospitals are Forced to Start Rationing Care


CNN Health’s Madeline Holcombe and Holly Yan write that because of the case loads of Covid and others some hospitals have started rationing care. According to US Department of Health and Human Services, over 101,000 Covid patients are currently receiving hospitalized care.

Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, chief clinical officer of Providence Health System in Seattle, told CNN “Before Covid, our ICUs were pretty busy. It’s because people were having car accidents and heart attacks and needing complicated surgery and going to the ICU afterward.”

“And those people are being put on the back burner. So anything that’s even remotely elective, we’re canceling those cases.”

St. Peter’s Health in Helena of Montana, one of the latest hospitals to resort to crisis standards of care, meaning emergency medicine personnel must ration care.

We are at the point where not every patient in need will get the care we might wish we could give.

Dr. Shelly Harkins, chief medical officer of St. Peter’s Health in Helena, Montana (source: CNN Health)

Dr. Megan Ranney, emergency physician and associate dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University, reportedly told CNN “people who come in cardiac arrest may not get CPR, and patients who would otherwise get hospitalized may be sent home with loved ones who are going to be scared and not have full capacity to take care of them”.

Insurers Restore Co-pays and Deductibles

Christopher Rowland of Washington Post writes in a recent article that large insurance companies that waved cost-sharing COVI-19 hospitalization care in 2020 are starting to bringing back the full cost of care.

Rowland writes “In 2020, as the pandemic took hold, U.S. health insurance companies declared they would cover 100 percent of the costs for COVID treatment, waiving co-pays and expensive deductibles for hospital stays that frequently range into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Tracey Lempner, spokeswoman UnitedHealthcare, reportedly told The Post “The cost-share waivers were just one piece of our overall response to the covid-19 pandemic. We have focused our efforts around helping our members get access to covid-19-related tests, vaccines and treatment, while providing additional support to our clients, care providers and local communities.”

Insurers wanted to encourage people to get treatment. And this was something that, almost more than any illnesses and health conditions, was something that you have no control over. The insurers probably had a sense that there was a moral obligation to not put patients on the spot for this kind of thing.

Jack Hoadley, research professor emeritus at the Georgetown University Center on Health Insurance Reforms (Source: Washington Post)

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield reportedly said in a statement “These waivers ended in January as we all had gained a better understanding of the virus, and people and communities became more familiar with best practices and protocols for limiting COVID-19 exposure and spread. Also, at this time vaccines, which are proven to be the safest and most effective way to protect oneself from COVID-19, were starting to become readily available.”

According to data gathered by the national independent nonprofit FAIR Health, average cost of Covid hospitalization is $29,000, or $156,000 for a patient requiring a ventilator and ICU treatment.

Coronavirus-19 vaccination watch

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID vaccination tracker page (as of September 21, 9 a.m.) 467,249,715 doses have been distributed and 386,780,816 doses administered. According MDH COVID-19 Response vaccine data (as of September 20) a total of 6,363,781 doses of Covid-19 (Pfizer & Moderna) vaccines have been administered in Minnesota. According to the MDH latest tally (as of September 22) the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are 692,029 (out of 12,181,290 tested) with 8,025 deaths.