An analysis conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that treating unvaccinated COVID patients has cost the United States billions of dollars since June.
"These COVID-19 hospitalizations are devastating for patients, their families, and health care providers. The hospitalizations are also costing taxpayer-funded public insurance programs and the workers and businesses paying health insurance premiums," the organization said in a press release.
To make the estimate, KFF first determined the average cost of treating a patient who is hospitalized with COVID-19 was $20,000. The study authors then used hospitalization data from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify the number of unvaccinated people who were hospitalized from June to August.
As the Delta variant spread over the summer, the number of preventable hospitalizations jumped from 32,000 in June to 68,000 in July. In August, the number was even higher, with 187,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations for a three-month total of 287,000.
Multiplying the number of patients by the average cost of the hospitalizations, the author's concluded that the U.S. has spent $5.7 billion treating unvaccinated patients for COVID-19. The study's authors said that it is likely that most patients did not have to incur the total cost of their treatment.
"The monetary cost of treating unvaccinated people for COVID-19 is borne not only by patients but also by society more broadly, including taxpayer-funded public programs and private insurance premiums paid by workers, businesses, and individual purchasers," they wrote. "Only a small share of the cost of a COVID-19 hospitalization is paid directly by patients themselves."