Infographic: COVID-19 patients with high-risk conditions 3x more likely to need the ICU

Published February 9, 2021
Inpatient and ICU stays were much likelier among a study group of COVID-19 patients than those without high risk conditions. Their treatment costs were nearly 45 times higher than for those treated as outpatients. The takeaway: containing the spread of COVID-19 matters more than ever.

Covid-19 patients with high-risk conditions are two times more likely to be hospitalized and three times more likely to be admitted to the ICU

To learn more about the use of healthcare services and related costs for those diagnosed with Covid-19, we’ve analyzed over 90,000 Covid-19 cases from a geographically diverse population of 4.5 million insured.

Of the 90,900 diagnosed with the infection, 95 percent of patients didn’t need hospitalization. But Covid-19 patients with high-risk conditions were three times more likely to end up in a hospital ICU, with an average per admission cost that was 30 percent higher than for patients without a high-risk condition.

Prevalence of high-risk conditions among diagnosed patients

Of the 90,900 patients diagnosed with Covid-19, 23,800, or 26 percent, had a high-risk condition, while 67,100, or 74 percent, did not have a high-risk condition. Covid-19 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes and obesity are at higher risk for serious health outcomes. Note that this population of patients diagnosed with Covid-19 shows a case rate of less than half the CDC rate as of November 30, 2020. Because our data is based on healthcare claims, we believe the difference can be accounted for because in some cases members did not seek medical treatment.

Inpatient and ICU stays for hospitalized patients

30 per 100,000 Covid-19 patients with a high-risk condition were ICU-hospitalized and 40 per 100,000 were hospitalized in non-ICU, as opposed to patients without a high-risk condition, among whom 10 per 100,000 were ICU-hospitalized and 20 per 100,000 were non-ICU hospitalized.

Average cost per member for Covid-19 treatment

During this study period, member cost sharing for Covid-19 treatment was waived. The following average costs are allowed amounts and not a reflection of out-of-pocket costs for members.

The average outpatient treatment cost for members without a Covid-19 related hospitalization was $500 to $1,000. The average patient age of this group was 39.

The average treatment cost compared to members treated for Covid-19 in an outpatient setting was 45 times higher and the average patient age was 54.

The average treatment cost compared to members hospitalized for Covid-19 without a related ICU stay was 2.5 times higher and the average patient age was also 54.

Why this matters

This data sheds light on the use and cost of healthcare for Covid-19 patients between February and November 2020. Patients with high-risk conditions were more likely to be hospitalized and to experience higher average costs.

While most Covid-19 patients don’t need to be hospitalized, the data reinforces the importance of staying vigilant about Covid-19 protections and the benefits of taking the Covid-19 vaccine.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are supporting Covid-19 vaccine efforts in their local communities and covering the cost of Covid-19 vaccination with no cost-sharing to members, in accordance with federal laws and regulations. Together, we will help the nation overcome this pandemic.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 35 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.