First They Fought the Virus. Now They Battle the Medical Payments.

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First They Fought the Virus. Now They Battle the Medical Bills.

Shubham Chandra quit a well-paying job with a New York start-up, in part to manage the hundreds of medical bills resulting from his father's seven-month hospital stay. His father, a cardiologist, died of coronavirus last fall.

For months he's been working 10 to 20 hours a week on bills, spending his mornings reading new bills and his afternoons calling insurers and hospitals. His chart recently showed 97 insurance rejected bills with over $ 400,000 potential for the family to owe. Mr Chandra tells vendors that his father is no longer alive but the bills continue to accumulate.

"A large part of my life thinks about these bills," he said. “It can become an obstacle to my everyday life. It's hard to sleep when you have hundreds of thousands of dollars in outstanding debt. "

Some coronavirus patients postpone additional medical care because of long-term side effects until they can settle their existing debts. They find that long-haul coronavirus often requires visits to multiple specialists and lots of scans to correct lingering symptoms, but they worry that more debt is building up.

Irena Schulz, 61, a retired biologist who lives in South Carolina, contracted coronavirus last summer. It has several persistent side effects, including hearing and kidney problems. She recently received a bill for $ 5,400 for hearing aids (to help with coronavirus-related hearing loss) that she was expecting from her health insurance company.

She avoided going to the emergency room when she felt sick because she was worried about the cost. She treats her kidney-related pain herself at home until she feels she can afford a specialist.

"I keep going with Tylenol and drinking a lot of water. I've found it helpful if I drink a lot of pineapple juice," she said. "If the pain exceeds a certain threshold, I will see a doctor. We are retired, have a steady income and there are only so many things to put on the credit card."

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