A new analysis published Tuesday estimates that preventable costs for treating hospitalized, unvaccinated Covid-19 patients reached $5.7 billion over the last three months.
This most recent data takes into account the surge in hospitalizations seen in August, which study authors estimate accounted for $3.7 billion of preventable spending alone.
The data analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation found, using data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as well as studies on health care costs, that each preventable Covid-19 hospitalization costs about $20,000.
According to KFF’s analysis of data from the US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US saw 287,000 preventable Covid-19 hospitalizations from June to August.
The study authors used “preventable” hospitalizations to refer to hospitalizations of unvaccinated adults for Covid-19 treatment primarily, while accounting for any post-vaccination infections that would have been expected if this population had been vaccinated.
These numbers together yield a total of $5.7 billion spent on preventable hospitalizations over three months. The study authors said this number is likely a conservative estimate of costs.
“This ballpark figure is likely an understatement of the cost burden from preventable treatment of Covid-19 among unvaccinated adults,” the authors said.
The study did not account for outpatient care costs, and some data indicates inpatient health care costs for Covid-19 treatment may be higher than the $20,000 figure used.
“Additionally, although breakthrough infections and hospitalizations are rare, unvaccinated people are also more likely to spread the virus to those who have taken measures to protect themselves and others, and those costs are not included in these estimates,” the authors wrote.