Author Spiegel

09.05.2020 17:05

Are Us Hospitals Benefiting From Falsely Overdiagnosing COVID-19?

Coronavirus in US hospitals

Recent legislation in the US has revealed some very interesting information. Turns out hospitals have higher Medicare rates for Covid-19 patients, which means some hospitals are tempted to misdiagnose patients with the Coronavirus for financial gain.

What you need to know

Here's the summary of Minnesota's state senator’s recent interview on Fox News: 

  1. It is a fact that hospitals get paid more for Covid-19 positive patients.
  2. The payments referenced in these claims are for treating patients, but multiple experts deny the existence of any evidence of hospital misconduct. 
  3. The state senator called these claims "distracting conspiracy theories", dismissing them altogether.
  4. It is a fact that the government will pay more to hospitals for Covid-19 cases in two senses: additional 20% on top of traditional Medicare rates and reimbursing hospitals for treating the uninsured patients with the disease.
  5. For a hospital to classify a patient as Covid-19 positive, they either have to administer a test or "in case a test is not available, and circumstances are compelling within a reasonable degree of certainty”, the patient can be labelled Covid-19 positive.
  6. A patient with regular garden-variety pneumonia will need $5,000 worth of treatment from Medicare. But if it's covid-19 pneumonia the cost of treatment would be $13,000 plus an additional cost of a ventilator used, the summ goes up to $39,000.
  7. If the difference between Covid-19 patients and regular patients is somewhere around $34,000 per person, then you can see why some hospitals may have the incentive to misdiagnose patients on purpose. 
  8. The state of Minnesota as well as California list only laboratory confirmed Covid-19 diagnoses. New York specifically lists all presumed cases, which is completely legal under guidelines from the CDC, but the payout will of course be larger for New York hospitals. 

There are three questions that are raised from these facts and allegations: 

If falsely diagnosing patients with Covid-19 is so beneficial, why is New York the only state allegedly practicing this?

If hospitals do get paid more for over-reporting the number of Covid-19 positive patients, does it automatically mean they are abusing the system?

Why do unfounded allegations spread like fire on social media?

Anything beyond this point would be guesswork. The best thing we can do is monitor changes. The only reason why fake news is so prevalent is because people don't take the time to dive deeper into whatever information they receive. 

See more: What is Coronavirus Terrorism?

The New York Times published a very interesting graph. It depicts the increase of death count from the trend of the last 5 years to be 23,000. 18,706 cases are those reported as Covid-19 deaths. A gap of 4,300 remains.  

This means that if at all, the number of Corona-related deaths were undercounted, which means the real number of death cases is higher than the hospitals report, so the numbers reported by hospitals are lower than the reality, and not higher as the conspiracy theory suggests. Do you agree?

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