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KFF: Unvaccinated COVID-19 Patients Cost $5.7B in Avoidable Care

More than 280,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations could have been prevented from June through August

September 15, 2021

The preventable hospitalizations from unvaccinated COVID-19 patients rose to an estimated $3.7 billion during August, according to a new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

From June through August, there were 287,000 preventable hospitalizations among unvaccinated adults, resulting in $5.7 billion in avoidable care, the report said. The KFF researchers used estimated hospitalization costs and vaccine efficacy data to project the financial costs to the health care system from the unvaccinated.

The report highlighted the growing toll of the Delta variant and the need to encourage COVID-19 vaccination across the United States.

“These COVID-19 hospitalizations are devastating for patients, their families, and health care providers,” the report noted.

Among the key takeaways:

  • Rising hospital cases:  With the Delta variant, preventable hospitalizations among the unvaccinated rose from 32,000 during June to 187,000 during August
  • True costs:  The researchers note that $5.7 billion is likely an underestimate of the true cost burden from preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations, as it does not take into account the outpatient services unvaccinated patients may need
  • Vaccine advocacy:  Lagging COVID-19 vaccination rates put a strain on the health care system. About 65 percent of Americans and 67.2 percent of Pennsylvanians 18 and older are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Improving COVID-19 vaccination rates will have a significant impact beyond health care costs by improving the nation’s public health, ensuring the safe re-opening of schools, supporting the pandemic’s economic recovery, the KFF researchers said.

HAP joins organizations across the country urging everyone who is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to get vaccinated. This week, the Pennsylvania Department of Health highlighted data from the commonwealth’s hospitals indicating that more than 94 percent of the state’s COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths were among the unvaccinated.

If you have questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact your health care provider for more information. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine online.