Asante expects to lose money during COVID-19 surge

MEDFORD, Ore. – Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asante has helped lift the financial burden off COVID-19 patients. Now with the recent surge, Asante says they’re expecting to lose money.

“We’ve written off millions of dollars that we historically would have requested from the patient,” said Asante’s Director of Finance, Heather Rowenhorst.

Rowenhorst said the hospital gets a flat rate from insurance companies, averaging about $14,000 per patient. After that, the hospital writes off the remaining expense. Usually, the hospitals could handle the flat rate. But with the recent surge, overwhelming Asante’s hospitals’, it’s now putting a strain on the hospitals’ finances.

“We’re kinda in the spot where we may need to reevaluate that approach,” said Rowenhorst.

Asante said it’s seen major increases in costs the past couple of months, one being labor. Many frontline medical workers are putting in additional shifts, day after day.

“That’s millions of dollars of premium that we’re paying out that historically we didn’t have to pay out,” said Rowenhorst.

Asante usually budgets $100,000 for travel medical workers, they’re now spending almost $400,000.

“We’ve tried to supplement with as many traveler nurses as possible that comes at a significant cost,” said Rowenhorst.

A cost she said is well worth it, just to give their regular workers a break.

“They work hard. They are dealing with families that are experiencing some of the worst possible things in their life,” said Rowenhorst.

Asante is also covering pharmaceuticals for COVID-19 patients, which can range from $5,000-$6,000 per visit. Not to mention lab work.¬†Each COVID-19 test costs Asante $25, if they outsource the test it’s an additional $65. Last week alone they spent about $200,000 just on COVID-19 tests.

“Sometimes we get reimbursed on that and sometimes we don’t. If it’s within the inpatient setting, it’s just rolled up in that flat fee. On the outpatient side, we do get some reimbursement,” said Rowenhorst.

In addition to labor, labs, and pharmaceuticals hospitals are paying for an enormous amount of PPE, extra beds, and oxygen. They’re also canceling elective surgeries, something that actually makes the hospital money.

“August financials will not look good. July financials were not good. That was before kind of this bigger surge,” said Rowenhorst.

Asante said something has got to change within our community for them to come out on the other end of this pandemic. She hopes more people change their minds about the vaccine. If this continues, Asante may not be able to cover additional COVID-19 costs.

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