Long COVID affects wallets

IT’S NEARLY THE TWO-YEAR MARK OF THE PANDEMIC, and there’s a lot the world is still trying to figure out – It’s almost the two-year mark of the pandemic, and there’s a lot world is still trying to figure out, like the effects of the long COVID.

It is estimated that millions of adults in the United States have long symptoms of COVID that last for months or years.

As we strive to understand its impact on the body, we’re learning more about its impact on your wallet.

A study found that more than half of American adults who contracted COVID or lost income during the pandemic are struggling with medical debt.

This has forced some people to dip into their savings. But that’s not all: Medical debt has led to lower credit scores and can make it harder for some people to afford basic necessities.

So when people have long COVID, they often rack up appointment after appointment fees, which could set them back on their medical bills.

This is because insurance companies will not always cover lengthy COVID treatments.

Over the past year, the CDC has created medical codes for many COVID symptoms, but many long COVID symptoms still don’t have one or are complicated to categorize. When this is the case, an insurance company may refuse to pay.

“I think they’ve developed 159 new codes to try and deal with post-COVID issues and if you don’t have a code you can’t submit a claim, and if you don’t submit a claim you can’t don’t get paid,” said Linda Bergthold, a former health policy researcher at Stanford University.

Insurance companies also want proof that treatments work, and without that they could say it’s not a “medical necessity,” a concept Bergthold studied for 30 years and researched. at Stanford.

“So the term medical necessity then became a way for an insurance company to say, ‘Well, you might think it’s medically necessary, Doctor X, but our research and our clinical policies show that this isn’t necessary for your patient, “and sometimes they explain the reasons, and sometimes they just deny it,” Bergthold said.

In December 2020, Congress approved over $1 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health for Long COVID research.

Since then, the NIH has implemented studies like their RECOVER initiative.

“There are clinics all over the country treating patients and collecting data, but for patients who are trying to get coverage right now or who are being denied, it’s an uphill war for them because the data is not there and they are struggling to prove their case,” Bergthold said.

Many of these people are not only in debt, but some are unable to work, jeopardizing their income and work-sponsored health insurance and adding even more stress to their financial situation.

New data from the Brookings Institute shows there may be a link between labor shortages and long COVID patients.

A study of long-term COVID patients found that 23% were out of work due to their illness, and a separate study found that 28% were unable to work.

Brookings found that potentially over a million Americans are out of work due to long COVID at any given time.

But it also doesn’t take into account people who had to cut their hours, start working part-time or suffer a demotion because of their illness.

For someone who is already feeling unwell and trying to balance their new lifestyle, it can be even harder for them to take on these battles with insurance companies.

“I would say you get a denial or your doctor gets a denial and says, ‘It was denied,'” Bergthold said.

“You fight this. You actually come back. Your doctor helps you go back to the insurance company and say, exactly what criteria did you use to deny this?”

This story was first reported by Christian Bryant to Newsy.

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