Nearly $3 Million Hospital Stay Shows the Cost of COVID-19

A video claiming to reveal the cost of a COVID-19-related hospital stay has gone viral on TikTok, and viewers appear shocked at the astonishing price tag of receiving medical care.

The clip from TikTok user @letstalkaboutbusiness, known on the platform as Al, shows an itemized list of services rendered at a hospital, totaling nearly $3 million. Claiming to share the "total cost" of "4 Months in a USA Hospital With COVID-19," the video has been viewed over 9.4 million times and counting since it was posted two days ago.

Panning down the document, viewers see that, for example, time in the intensive care unit amounted to $324,349, while respiratory therapy was priced at over $550,000. Ultrasounds contributed a charge of $3,423, and lab costs surpass $350,000. In total, the reported four months of treatment totaled a whopping $2,850,776.10.

However, it's important to note that at the top of the document, a statement reads, "This is not a bill"—suggesting to many that insurance has yet to be factored into the price tag and that the actual out-of-pocket cost for the medical treatment will be far lower. As Al wrote in the comments: "I'll update everyone on the cost after insurance in my next post."

"Honestly this should be an advertisement for insurance," he added. According to many users, the document shown is something more akin to "an explanation of benefits" that breaks down the medical costs for insurance purposes.

Regardless, viewers are using the video's comments section to engage in a fierce debate over the price of healthcare in the United States. When one user, for example, pointed out that the document shows "what insurance was charged" rather than the out-of-pocket cost, another commenter asked, "But what if they didn't have insurance?"

Questioned another: "But why is it that expensive in the first place?"

Others spoke more broadly about their concerns regarding American healthcare and the high cost of medical treatment. Wrote one user: "It's sad how I'd rather be in pain at home then [sic] go to the hospital for anything."

Meanwhile, viewers from outside the United States were especially outraged by the video.

"The rest of the modern world laughs at the US healthcare scam," wrote one TikToker.

Added another: "In Australia the bill is $0.00."

Newsweek attempted to contact @letstalkaboutbusiness for further comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Meanwhile, the amount of COVID-19-related medical debt faced by Americans is of mounting concern. According to recent reports, "as many as 12.5 million Americans could already be saddled with COVID-related medical debt," with amounts ranging, on average, from $5,000 to $9,999. Despite dropping case numbers and increasing vaccination rates, debt is expected to increase due to the cost of treatment required by COVID "long haulers" and the ending of various emergency government aid programs.

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A doctor taking a patient's blood pressure in Dorchester, Massachusetts, 2006. A TikToker shocked viewers by sharing the $3 million bill they received after a long hospital stay for COVID-19. Joe Raedle/Getty Images