The COVID-19 pandemic continues to shake up the hospital sector. One challenge is that hospitals have been bringing in less money, as profitable elective procedures have been canceled during coronavirus surges. This means a squeeze on their budgets — even while hospitals are taking added measures to keep staff and patients safe from the coronavirus.
Now, autumn threatens to bring additional surges in coronavirus cases, as hospitals try to bring budgets into line. At the same time, millions of Americans are out of work and losing the private health insurance that pays hospital bills.
“It sort of all comes together as essentially a triple whammy,” Aaron Wesolowski, vice president of policy, research and strategy with the American Hospital Association, said in a Bloomberg interview. As many as half of hospitals could be losing money by the end of 2020, he said.
The hospital association estimated that the pandemic will cost U.S. hospitals more than $323 billion through the end of this year, Bloomberg reported. The association wants the federal government to forgive loans made during the COVID-19 surge and ante up an additional bailout.
The Kaiser Family Foundation reported Tuesday (Oct. 13) that 38 states are COVID-19 hotspots. The foundation said that there have been a total of almost 7.9 million COVID-19 cases across the U.S. Deaths stand at 215,775.
More than 35,000 Americans were hospitalized, the foundation said, while the positivity rate was about 5 percent. In addition, the Midwest is seeing growing problems.
The overall impact on hospitals is that three dozen have already entered bankruptcy this year, according Bloomberg.
The pandemic has also brought other changes to the healthcare sector. The use of telehealth services has surged.
In 2019, prior to the pandemic, only 10 percent of consumers used telemedicine, JD Power reported. But the pandemic shut down doctors’ offices, and patients and providers looked on telehealth differently.
A study of visits to NYU Langone found virtual visits rose 4,345 percent for non-urgent care between March 2 and April 14, along with a 683 percent increase for urgent care.