GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Families dealing with a child in the hospital may also face an average of $1,300 in out-of-pocket costs for that stay, Michigan University researchers found.
In a study recently published in “JAMA Pediatrics,” researchers found the average pediatric hospital stay cost for families that are privately insured is $1,300, while one in seven families will need to pay more than $3,000, according to a release from Michigan Medicine.
“Bills for a child’s hospitalization can be astonishingly high for some families depending on how their insurance plan is structured,” lead author Erin Carlton, M.D., a pediatric intensivist at University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and researcher at the U-M Medical School, of Michigan Medicine, said in the release.
One researcher said insurance companies “imposing substantial cost-sharing” is “inappropriate” when a child is hospitalized for procedures that could be life-saving.
“If the goal is to decrease health care spending, there are better way to achieve this than to subject families to huge bills just because their child was unlucky enough to get severely ill,” senior author and Mott pediatrician Kao-Ping Chua, M.D., Ph.D., a member of the Susan B. Meister Child Health Evaluation and Research Center at Michigan Medicine, said in the release.
If the hospitalization was in the first quarter of the year, the family would be more likely to see higher costs. Researchers say that’s because insurance plans reset deductibles in January.
“A pediatric hospitalization is often unexpected, and many families aren’t prepared for all the financial repercussions once they’re home,” Carlton said. “Our findings show that restructuring how insurance plans cover hospitalizations could help alleviate this financial burden on families.”
The costs analyzed in the study include things like co-insurance payments and deductibles, but does not include ‘indirect’ costs, like missing work.
The researchers analyzed 183,780 hospitalizations among 130,826 children from 2017 to 2019. The kids were all under the age of 18 and most were between the ages of 4 to 16.
The researchers did not include births in the study. Many of the kids were hospitalized due to severe mental health disorders, bronchitis or asthma.
To read more about what the researchers found, go to michiganmedicine.org.