In a new story by The Daily Yonder, reporter Liz Carey writes about the change on the horizon for rural health care facilities. With most insurance companies stopping their full coverage of COVID-19 cases, hospitals are waiting to see if the new rules will cost them money they need to keep the doors open.

From the story: “According to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, insurance companies found they were flush with profits as hospital use for things like elective surgeries and regular doctor visits dropped.

“Earlier in the pandemic, we found that the vast majority (88%) of people enrolled in fully-insured private health plans nonetheless would have had their out-of-pocket costs waived if they were hospitalized with Covid-19,” the analysis found. 

“At the time, health insurers were highly profitable due to lower-than-expected health care use, while hospitals and health care workers were overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients. Insurers may have also wanted to be sympathetic toward Covid-19 patients, and some may have also feared the possibility of a federal mandate to provide care free-of-charge to Covid-19 patients, so they voluntarily waived these costs for at least some period of time during the pandemic.”

Since then, however, many insurers began phasing out cost-sharing. Others have announced they will start phasing cost-sharing out starting in October.”

While the federal government will continue to pay for uninsured COVID-19 patients, for many rural facilities the impact of the cost-share change won’t be seen for a few months at least, and could potentially leave many hospitals and clinics stuck with no way to pay their own operating costs.

To read the rest of the story on the Yonder, click here.

To see the analysis by KFF, click here.