Clearing the air about COVID-19
July 16, 2020
DAYTON–There is little doubt to anyone that has used healthcare services in the time of COVID-19, that the system of care has changed. There are phone questions prior to visits, screening at the door, and personal protective equipment on everyone. With COVID-19 permeating every aspect of our daily lives, we sometimes overlook the fact that some elements of healthcare have not changed: When you come to the doctor because you are sick, they are going to fully diagnose you. We do not just screen for COVID-19 and then send you along your way still sick and without answers.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness added to a long line of other respiratory ailments. The symptoms of COVID-19 are like the flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and pneumonia to name a few and all include: Difficulty Breathing, fever, chills, body aches, fatigue, and cough. These other respiratory illnesses also have independently calculated fatality rates, but interestingly, the CDC has started tracking the fatality rate for PIC which includes Pneumonia, Influenza, and COVID-19. It is reassuring that the death rate of these combined illnesses has decreased every week, for 10 straight weeks, since week 25 of the pandemic.
When a patient presents with these symptoms, they can expect to not only be diagnosed for COVID-19, but they will also likely be screened for flu and RSV at the same time. Flue and RSV can be fatal to the same populations that have been affected by COVID-19: People with underlying health issues as well as people over the age of 65. The CDC states for people 65 years and older, current cumulative COVID-19 hospitalization rates at this time are higher than cumulative end-of season hospitalization rates for influenza for four of the five past influenza seasons; COVID-19 hospitalizations are lower only than rates observed during the 2017-18 influenza season.
Lastly, there has been some confusion for patients who receive a bill after screening when federal and state governments have all required insurance companies to pick up 100% of COVID-19 related charges. The COVID-19 screening is being paid at 100% with no charge to the patient, it is the other, non-COVID-19 related screenings that still carry co-pay and co-insurances just like they always have. Your provider is doing exactly what you would expect them to do when you present with illness: They are working hard to determine what has made you sick and planning out treatment options.