Man With Insurance Left With $80K Hospital Bill After COVID Battle

A man who contracted COVID-19 at the end of last year and spent more than 130 days in hospital has been left with an $80,000 bill, despite having medical insurance.

Jim Sweeney, 63, from Nevada, tested positive for COVID-19 last November and was admitted to St. Rose Dominican Hospital, Siena Campus in Henderson, before quickly being moved into intensive care and being placed on a ventilator, according to a fundraiser started by his son, Scott Sweeney. Jim Sweeney was on the ventilator until mid-February and remained in hospital and a rehab center until April.

"From that time he has raked [sic] up some ridiculous hospital bills. Most of which his insurance helped with but they won't cover everything, and that leaves him with a $80,000+ bill that he is now solely responsible for," his son says on the fundraising page, which was set up on Thursday.

"This is because while the hospitals that treated him were in [the insurance cover's] network, the doctors that those hospitals contract with are not. My Dad went to the hospital in [the] network, he was quickly put on a vent and was never given a choice in his doctors. He did what he was supposed too [sic] and still ended up with a massive bill that he can't afford and risk [sic] taking everything he has worked for his whole life."

KHON2 reported that Jim Sweeney had asked doctors after he woke up from his COVID-induced coma, and medical professionals said that his insurance company would cover it.

Sweeney's family tried to resolve the bill with the insurance provider. The fundraising page says the fees were for a doctors group that treated Jim Sweeney at two hospitals. Initially the insurance provider deemed the doctors group out of network and gave the family a small percentage of what the charges were to pay the bill, which amounted to around $6000, the fundraiser page said. The family then filed another claim but the insurer only agree to pay another $4000, meaning that Sweeney still has to pay another $70,000.

Newsweek has contacted Scott Sweeney, who started the fundraiser, for comment.

St. Rose Dominican Sienna Hospital acknowledged in a statement that health care should be affordable for all people, but stressed the hospital couldn't intervene in a billing matter between the patient and his insurance.

"He [Jim Sweeney] has been through so much because of Covid. He has had to get over double pneumonia, kidney failure and dialysis treatments, learning to walk again, learning to talk again, gaining motor function in his hands and arms, and building up his lung strength," Scott Sweeney said on his father's fundraiser page.

"Amazing he has overcome almost all of it, though he is still having difficulty breathing as being on the vent for so long did a lot of damage to his lungs. He needs to be on oxygen and can't go back to work yet because his lungs can't meet the physical demands of his job," he added.

"The money that he has to pay is absurd and just too much for him to afford. He is on disability and can't retire yet. We ask that if you have the means please help him get his life back. This bill has caused him and my family so much stress and frustration. We just want to resolve this bill so he can get back to recovering in peace without this massive debt over his head. He has been through so much please help so he can get over this too."

Man in hospital bed.
A stock photo of a man in a hospital bed. A man who contracted COVID-19 at the end of last year and spent more than 130 days in hospital has been left with a $80,000 bill, despite having medical insurance. Getty Images