Original Article

Comparative Analysis of Costs of Caring for Inpatient COVID-19 Patients and Non-COVID-19 Patients at One Academic Center

Authors: Chi-Cheng Huang, MD, Samuel Rafla, MD, Jacqueline Lippert, MD, Andre Bubnov, MBA, Tareq Islam, MD, MPH


Objectives: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has created a significant financial burden on the US healthcare system. The purpose of this study was to compare the costs of caring for patients admitted with COVID-related illness versus non-COVID patients. We hypothesized that the average daily costs of hospitalization would be higher among COVID patients compared with non-COVID patients.

Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study. Data were downloaded for patients who were admitted at Atrium Wake Forest Baptist Hospital from January 1, 2020 through February 28, 2021. The study population was dichotomized by COVID and non-COVID patients, and the average daily hospital cost was calculated. Multivariate adjusted linear regression models were used to calculate additional “average daily cost” comparisons.

Results: The COVID group was slightly older (mean age 61.0 vs 58.0 years), with longer mean length of stay (6.12 vs 4.95 days) and higher mean average daily direct cost ($1504.01 vs $1341.30) when compared with the non-COVID group, respectively (P < 0.001). After adjusting for various patient characteristics, the direct inpatient cost was $123.00 (95% confidence interval 74.4–171.5) higher per day in patients with COVID-19 (P < 0.0001). When indirect costs are considered, the combined indirect and direct cost may be four times greater.

Conclusions: The average daily direct hospital cost is higher among patients with COVID compared with non-COVID-related illness. Many reasons contributed to this cost difference, including decreased nurse staffing ratios, lower physician censuses, and needed infrastructure changes. Studies with a larger sample size and more precise comparable study groups are warranted to validate our findings.
Posted in: Infectious Disease133

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