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Many Caregivers Could Grapple With Cost Of Health Care During Coronavirus Pandemic

Published: Monday, June 8, 2020 - 5:08pm
Updated: Monday, February 22, 2021 - 12:22pm

Nationwide, more than 34,000 nursing home staffers were infected with the coronavirus and nearly 450 died, according to newly released data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. And like a lot of Americans, caregivers have some of the same concerns — like, worrying about whether they can afford to get sick. 

Caregivers have been on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic since the very beginning, so it’s no surprise thousands became sick. In Arizona, roughly 330 contracted the virus according to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data. If they’re lucky, they’ll experience mild symptoms. But if they have to seek care, it can be expensive.

Stephen Campbell is with PHI, an organization that studies the caregiving workforce. He says 1 in 5 caregivers in Arizona doesn't have health insurance.

"They may not be able to be able to afford treatment for COVID-19," he said. "And they may also just be fearful of incurring huge amounts of debt in order to treat the virus if they have it. So I think that there's there's a lot of pent up unnecessary or avoidable stress around contracting this disease because these workers because these workers are lack health insurance."

And Campbell says for those who do have health insurance, but feel unsafe working with COVID-19 patients, they’re often unable to quit or stay home because those medical benefits are tied to their employment. 

"So, I think certainly one of the major lessons of this pandemic is we're going to have to rethink the way that we structure health insurance benefits for these workers," he said. "So that we can ensure that they're able to access the care that they need when they need it."

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