Can the medical system and patients afford coronavirus-related costs?

Jun 15, 2020, 12:31 PM | Updated: 2:30 pm

UW Medicine, covid treatment...

Workers at UW Medicine's drive-through testing facility. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

As we see a second surge of COVID-19, one of the questions coming up is what the cost is going to be for medical treatment. KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross noted a recent Seattle Times article in which a 70 year-old coronavirus patient ended up in the hospital for several weeks at a cost of $1.1 million.

Can the medical system afford this expense? Tacoma MD Dr. Gordon Cohen joined Seattle’s Morning News to discuss.

“What is the actual cost of providing medical care for all these patients? We don’t even have any idea what the answer is to that because, first of all, we don’t know what the average cost is going to be for patients, but for these critically ill patients it’s going to be similar to the case described in The Seattle Times at $1,000,000 or more,” he said.

Amazon temporarily banned a COVID book, Elon Musk fought back

“As we start trying to do more and more novel treatments like a double lung transplant, the cost is going to go way up as well.”

Dr. Cohen is referring to the case of a woman in her 20s who got an extreme case of coronavirus and required a lung transplant.

Have we learned any more about how serious a threat this virus is to young people?

“She got infected with COVID, got very sick, failed treatment with a ventilator and ended up on … a heart lung machine, or in COVID patients, it’s usually just a lung support machine,” Cohen explained. “In the whole history of since we started doing lung transplants worldwide, there’s only been 55,000 lung transfers performed over a period of about 25 years.”

UW Virology head ‘cautiously optimistic’ as Washington begins to reopen

“The survival at five years is 54%. At 10 years, it’s 32%. So the survival benefit from lung transplant isn’t tremendous. It’s a harsh statement … but when we consider this on a patient by patient basis, it’s a very expensive way of extending somebody’s life for a limited period of time.”

The issue is that there still isn’t a great understanding for why young people get bad coronavirus infections, and sometimes major procedures like a lung transplant don’t completely solve it.

“We don’t still really understand why young people or really anybody, but young people for certain, get COVID-19. There’s a possibility that there is a genetic component,” he said. “So if there’s a genetic component, certainly putting in new lungs won’t necessarily remove the genetic component … Your body is still what gets infected first, not just in the lungs.”

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross

republican debate...

Dave Ross

Ross: The highs and lows of the second 2024 Republican debate

As you’ve heard by now, there was considerable chaos during last night’s debate, including an argument between Tim Scott and Nikki Haley over the expensive curtains in her office.

1 day ago

baby plane...

Dave Ross

Ross: Planes are noisy, so are babies; what’s the big deal?

The issue of airborne babies keeps coming up, and as far as I can tell, the reason it keeps coming up is that reporters find themselves near a baby on a plane

2 days ago

retail theft...

Dave Ross

Ross: Seattle has a serious problem, not enough castles

I’m just back from a tour of Eastern Canada, and of course, when you visit other cities, you compare them with your own.

3 days ago

FILE - A view of the Shell oil company logo above a Shell fuel station in London, on May 5, 2022. S...

Dave Ross

Ross: How the gas tax could start paying you

A bill for the next legislative session that could rebate some of the revenue from the state’s carbon credit auctions to drivers

4 days ago

Dr. Bleich found you could discourage kids from buying soda if you post signs near the soda case sh...

Dave Ross

Ross: Study shows aging effects of sugar

My family informs me that no one wants to hear any more studies about sugar, because they've already heard enough.

9 days ago

school lunches research...

Dave Ross

Ross: New research confirms what we all know about school lunches

From time to time, we'll hear about scientific studies that, after careful research, will rediscover something everybody knew 50 years ago.

11 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Can the medical system and patients afford coronavirus-related costs?