Not only has Covid been turning our lives upside down for the better part of the last three years, but it also caused millions of deaths. Many of these deaths happened after long hospital stays and medical treatments.
Unfortunately, many of those that passed away left behind thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills. Now, not only are millions of people having to adjust to life without a loved one, but they’re also trying to pay off their loved one’s medical bills.
If you’re struggling to pay off your loved ones’ Covid death medical bills, you’ve come to the right place. This article will discuss everything you need to know about medical bills after a Covid death and whether or not you have to pay them. We’ll also look at how to learn more about pursuing Covid financial and funeral assistance.
COVID-19 Medical Bills: What to Do?
The COVID-19 pandemic brought about unprecedented fear, uncertainty, and sickness. In more than 1 million cases, it resulted in the premature deaths of Americans. Dealing with the death of a loved one is hard enough without thinking about what to do regarding their COVID death medical bills. While some people can pay off these debts, most simply don’t have the money available.
According to a study from the University of Michigan, the average out-of-pocket cost for a Covid-related hospital stay is estimated to be $1,600 to $4,000 after COVID-related cost waivers have ended. That’s not even counting continuing outpatient treatment related to COVID, especially in the context of Long Covid. Those with Medicare were usually on the lower end, while those with private insurance were often on the higher.
Either way, however, thousands of people were placed in financial stress and turmoil due to medical bills after a COVID death. Unbeknownst to many of these people is that there are ways to circumnavigate these hefty debts, and here’s how.
Analyze and Itemize Your COVID-19 Hospital Bills
The first thing you should do with any medical bill, including COVID death medical bills, is to analyze and itemize them. However, medical bills are extremely confusing and difficult to decipher if you don’t work in the healthcare system. If understanding your medical bills is too difficult, contact a healthcare advocate for assistance. Here are the things you should check for.
- You are getting billed for the right treatments, procedures, and amount of time
- No errors or repeat charges on the hospital bill
- No “surprise charges” or unexpected costs
- Each charge has the correct CPT code next to it
Ask for COVID-19 Financial Assistance
Contact the medical facility if everything checks out and your loved ones’ COVID death medical bills are more than you can afford. Ask them if there’s anything they can do to reduce the bill or if you can work out a settlement.
In many cases, hospitals understand your troubles and will reduce the bill to a more manageable amount. Make sure you have all the necessary billing and financial information before making this call. Furthermore, for most of 2020 and part of 2021, there were co-pay, deductible, and out-of-pocket cost waivers by most insurance companies, so it never hurts to ask the hospital or your insurance company.
Furthermore, until March 22, 2022, there was also the COVID-19 Claims Reimbursement to Health Care Providers and Facilities for Testing, Treatment, and Vaccine Administration for the Uninsured program under HRSA for the un/underinsured, and as such, the healthcare facility may already have billed the program for your care.
If the hospital refuses to compromise on your medical bills, you may have to seek financial assistance from alternative resources.
Visit Billing Office and Appeal in Person
Before moving on to these alternative resources, reach out to the billing office to see if an in-person meeting to make a final appeal is possible. Saying no to someone over the phone is one thing, but saying no in person is far more difficult. Appearing in person will also show the billing office how serious you are and how dire your situation is.
Look for Possible Discounts
Once you have your final dollar amount related to medical bills after a Covid death, your next step is to find discounts. There’s a good chance you can find local and state programs to offer medical billing discounts for deaths related to COVID-19. These apply to both insured and uninsured patients.
Seek for Health Advocate Help
Contact a healthcare advocate if you’ve exhausted all your options and don’t know where else to turn for help with medical bills after a COVID death. Healthcare advocates will help you understand your medical bills, explore all avenues of financial assistance, and develop a repayment plan for Covid death medical bills.
The cost of hiring a health advocate will vary from company to company. However, in most cases, the money you spend on an advocate will save you thousands of dollars in medical bills.
Medical Reimbursement for Uninsured COVID-19 Patients
If you don’t have health insurance and are facing substantial medical bills after a COVID death, there’s help for you. In 2020, the government passed the CARES Act, which provides financial assistance to uninsured/underinsured patients in the hospital for COVID-19. These benefits extend to spouses and family members if someone passes away because of COVID and leaves behind hefty medical bills.
Patients with no insurance could have had 100 percent of their expenses covered by the federal government under a special program set up by the government for the pandemic, with hospitals reimbursed for care at Medicare rates.
Additionally, you could have gotten your healthcare provider to seek a claim reimbursement from the Department of Health and Human Services if you didn’t have insurance or were underinsured. These claim reimbursements applied to Covid testing, any resulting treatments and hospital stays, and Covid vaccinations. These reimbursements applied to both American citizens and immigrants. However, due to funds running out, this option is no longer available, unless claims were submitted before March 22, 2022.
If you have insurance, however, your insurance company should cover some or all of your Covid death medical bills. The amount of reimbursement also depends on the state in which you reside.
Be sure to check with your insurance company before seeking alternative assistance.
Loss of Income Due to COVID and High Medical Bills
One of the biggest impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic had on America was on the economy. Millions of workers were out of a job for weeks or months, whether they had Covid or not.
Furthermore, around 20% (according to most estimates) of COVID patients do not fully recover and have Long COVID. Long COVID has left countless people under/unemployed due to their inability to work and as such has led to extreme financial consequences as they also need healthcare. For many, recovering financially from the COVID-19 pandemic was just as hard or harder than recovering from the disease itself. Luckily, options are available for those struggling financially due to the loss of income because of Covid.
- If you lost the ability to work or do your job because of Covid, you could apply for unemployment benefits from the state and federal government.
- If you can no longer afford to pay your rent or mortgage, you can apply for state and federal housing assistance programs for financial assistance.
- If you miss work but are back on the job, your employer should reimburse you for some or all of your missed wages. The government will then reimburse your employer.
Regardless of what your financial need is as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has assistance programs in place to help. However, it’s up to you to know which programs you qualify for and to apply to them.
COVID-19 Death and Funeral Expenses: Help is Available
Unfortunately, money can’t fix everything that happened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of December 2022, over one million people died in the US due to Covid. While financial and government assistance programs can’t bring back a loved one or compensate for their loss, these programs can help ease the burden of paying for their funeral.
In some cases, funeral expenses are as high or higher than medical expenses. If that’s the case and you can’t afford to give your loved one the send-off they deserve, financial assistance is available.
Funeral Assistance Eligibility
If you have a loved one who passed away because of Covid-19 or its variants, you may qualify for medical billing and funeral assistance through FEMA. However, to be eligible for these financial benefits, you must be either a US citizen, a qualified non-citizen, or a non-citizen national. You must also meet the following criteria.
- The Covid death happened in the United States or a United States territory
- The death happened as a direct result of Covid-19
- You are currently responsible for all expenses related to the funeral and it happened after January 20, 2020.
COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Coverage
Funeral assistance coverage for Covid-19 related deaths falls into the hands of FEMA. Here are some of the expenses with which they may assist you for a total up to 9,000 USD per funeral.
- Funeral services and procession
- Burial plot
- Cost of the death certificate
- Transportation of the remains and up to two passengers to the burial site
- Funeral home equipment
- The ceremony
- Much more
COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Requirements
The main requirement is that the death resulted because of Covid-19, and it must say so on the death certificate. According to the law firm of Helmuth and Johnson, “The death certificate MUST state that the cause of death “may have been caused by COVID-19” or “was likely the result of COVID-19 or COVID-19 symptoms.” You should also keep receipts and documentation on all your funeral expenses.
COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Application Steps
You can apply for COVID-19 funeral assistance in person by calling FEMA’s toll-free number at 844-684-6333. You must have a FEMA representative with you when you fill out your application. Make sure to bring the following things with you to your appointment.
- Your Social Security card and date of birth, as well as that of the deceased
- Your phone number and mailing address
- Address where your loved one passed away
- Additional information stipulated by your FEMA representative
You’ll receive an application number to create an online account upon application. You can then submit all pertinent documents related to funeral expenses through the online account. It could take up to 45 days to process your claim once FEMA has all the required information. You’ll receive your reimbursement through a mailed check or direct deposit upon approval.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who to Turn to for Financial Assistance Related to the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic?
While medical bills after a COVID death are troubling and stressful, help is available. Between your health insurance, government financial programs, and negotiating your medical bill, you should be able to bring it to a more manageable amount. You should also contact us to speak to a health advocate for additional assistance related to any COVID medical billings. We’ll help you formulate a plan, understand your bill, and however else we can to get you through this stressful time.