Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Quarantine Costs Strain Revenue Cycles

Now that the Ebola outbreak has reached U.S. soil, it's up to hospitals and medical facilities around the country to keep it in check. The cost: $1,000 an hour.

At least, that's the figure experts came up with after computing the cost of Thomas Duncan's treatment at Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas. During his nine-day confinement, Duncan racked up between $18,000 and $24,000 per day, according to a Bloomberg report. Including indirect costs, his total bill may reach half a million dollars.
Even survivors like Nina Pham, a nurse working at the same hospital, can't escape the inflated cost of Ebola. A 13-day confinement cost her $110,000—way below the cost of Duncan’s treatment, but still substantial. Regardless, such expensive treatments can strain the financial resources of patients and the revenue cycles of health care providers if not managed properly.

Quarantines can take their economic toll on medical facilities. Aside from using every resource at their disposal to prevent the spread of disease, they also have to use untested tech—such as the four bio containment facilities set up to combat Ebola. As health workers pull out all the stops to contain the epidemic, they should make every cent count.

Insurance companies have begun offering pandemic policies for hospitals to mitigate the cost, a first for the industry. However, these require proper documentation and fund allocation. Nobody wants Ebola on the loose across the country, but no hospital wants to break the bank trying to prevent it, either.

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