Here’s How Much Trump’s Walter Reed Stay Would Cost One of His Voters
There has been widespread scorn and mockery of coronavirus-positive Donald Trump’s proclamation “I feel better than I did 20 years ago” after his 72 hour stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Many social media posts went something like this:
It’s beyond irresponsible for the President of the United States to use his one experience with COVID-19 and extrapolate that to millions of people who are suffering. More than 200,000 Americans have already died. Many more are in peril and have every reason to take precautions.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) October 5, 2020
Others have rightly pointed out that very few could even afford the level of medical care Trump received and wondered what the cost was for his weekend at Walter Reed.
The New York Times thinks it has the answer: more than $100,000. That’s $99,250 more than Trump reportedly paid in income taxes in 2017.
Across the country, the Times reported, “patients have struggled with both the long-term health and financial effects of contracting coronavirus. Nearly half a million have been hospitalized. Routine tests can result in thousands of dollars in uncovered charges; hospitalized patients have received bills upward of $400,000.” On top of that can pile thousands of dollars of after care costs to help survivors deal with the long term effects of having had the virus.
In all, Trump spent three days in the hospital, in a private multi-room suite. He arrived and left by helicopter. He received multiple coronavirus tests, oxygen, steroids and an experimental antibody treatment. His medical tab, of course, is picked up by the federal government, aka taxpayers.
Here’s the Times estimate of how some of Trump’s medical costs break down:
According to a claims database, FAIR Health, the median charge for a coronavirus hospitalization for a patient over 70 is more than $93,000, although the estimated amount allowed by insurance companies is just over $60,000.
Remdesivir, a new coronavirus treatment created by Gilead, costs $3,120 when purchased by private insurers and $2,340 with public programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
It’s believed that the experimental Regeneron monoclonal antibody treatment he received, which is derived from embryonic stem cells and is not FDA approved, was granted under a “compassionate use” exemption at no charge. Note, however, that Trump has known the company’s CEO Leonard S. Schleifer for years. He’s been a member of Trump’s golf club in Westchester County, New York. When it does hit the commercial market it’s likely to cost thousands of dollars.
On top of the charges for Trump’s hospital suite, medications, tests and doctors is transportation.
The biggest billing risk for a patient receiving treatment similar to Trump’s would probably come from helicopter rides to the hospital. The median charge for an air ambulance is $38,770, according to a study in the journal Health Affairs published this year. Taking two helicopter rides, as Trump did, could plausibly result in more than $40,000 in medical debt for patients without access to their own aircraft.
While insurance would cover a portion of the costs for those who can afford the premiums, the remaining balance due would be crippling. If they survive the virus, the uninsured are faced with a mountain of medical debt they most likely will never pay off.