“These numbers are a compelling illustration of how the costs of low vaccination rates are spreading to the rest of society,” said Katherine Hempstead, senior policy advisor at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “People may say that getting vaccinated is a personal choice, but these health care costs are not personal – they are split between policyholders and taxpayers. However, given the geographic nature of hospitalizations, they are likely to pose particularly undesirable barriers to health insurance plans. in the hardest hit states. “
The $ 2.3 billion excludes support costs for taxpayer-funded health insurance programs and health insurance premium workers and businesses.
Kaiser Family Foundation researchers wrote that employers can charge unvaccinated workers more for health benefits through wellness programs. Private insurance companies have also begun to reinstate participation in COVID-19 hospital admissions. According to the note, the typical out-of-pocket payment for patients hospitalized with COVID-19-related pneumonia was around $ 1,300.
Opportunity costs are also not included in the analysis. Reduced life expectancy, persistent mental health problems associated with the pandemic, and long-term health complications are expected to drain economic growth.
The combined financial costs of the pandemic, associated with lost productivity and impaired health, are estimated at more than $ 16 trillion, or roughly 90% of the US gross domestic product, political experts wrote. JAMA editorial In the past year. The estimated damage to a family of four is approximately $ 200,000.
Half of this economic damage can be attributed to the loss of income as a result of the recession caused by the pandemic. The rest is the economic consequences of a shorter and less healthy life.
“Production losses of this magnitude are enormous,” wrote Harvard health policy experts David Cutler and Lawrence Summers in a JAMA article. “The loss in production during the Great Recession was only a quarter less. The economic loss is more than double the total cash cost for all the wars the US has fought since September 11, 2001, including the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.”
Cutler and Summers wrote that the US is prioritizing the cost of treating emergencies over public health services and infrastructure, and should change its approach. They recommended that investments in testing, contact tracing, and isolation be permanent and not stop when COVID-19 recedes.