Health insurance providers continue to waive COVID costs as medical bills mount for patients

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The financial journey of one COVID-19 survivor started from the ambulance ride to the hospital, being put on a ventilator and the multiple treatments that followed.

A 14-day stay in the hospital landed Aaron Mikami a medical bill that continued to climb.

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“It was a little over $200,000,” said Aaron Mikami, a COVID survivor.

Then his battle came with recovery through follow-up appointments and therapy.

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii and HMSA fortunately waived COVID treatment costs for members through the end of the pandemic. Kaiser told KHON2 that included COVID-related treatment from doctors visits to hospital stays. HMSA said it is taking co-payments out of its reserves to ensure the safety of its members.

This financial help was a weight lifted off Mikami’s shoulders.

“I’m really grateful for the people at HMSA for working along with my mom and my family to kind of alleviate the stress of the pressures of financial burden that was given to my family,” Mikami said.

Not all situations go according to plan, however.

“When an insurance company has absolutely no basis to deny a claim or to take any action or may have some malicious intent or are angry at an insured person or any of the things that typically arise beyond the contractual obligations, that’s considered an extra contractual liability,” said Mark Davis.

Mark Davis, an attorney who specializes in insurance bad faith claims, said it is important to document all communication with insurance providers.

“If this ever does go to litigation, your claim and your dispute with the insurance company, they will always be looking back and looking at, you know, who said what, and when,” Davis said.

Mikami said he has learned some lessons from his own experience.

“Just make sure you guys are mindful of what you guys are signing when it comes to dotted lines. For me, I wasn’t really 100% there when I was in the hospital. So thankfully, I was able to direct questions and my mom was my primary contact,” Mikami said.

Find more COVID-19 news: cases, vaccinations on our Coronavirus News page

The state has not looked into whether health coverage based on COVID vaccination status should be prohibited because it is unaware of any need for those discussions at this time.

Health insurance providers continue to waive COVID costs as medical bills mount for patients

Christin Hakim

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