SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — A new measure filed Monday in the Illinois legislature would force unvaccinated patients to pay their own medical expenses if they become hospitalized with COVID-19.
State Representative Jonathan Carroll, a Northbrook Democrat, sponsored the proposal to prompt people to consider the costs of their consequences to the greater health care system.
“The vaccine is proven to be the one thing that is stopping the severity of COVID-19, and we are seeing more variants popping up,” Carroll said in a Monday morning interview. “The experts are telling us, ‘This is now becoming a disease of the unvaccinated.’ The people that are choosing to get vaccinated are not the ones that are clogging up the healthcare system, it’s the ones that aren’t.”
According to one of the largest hospital groups operating in Illinois, the average unvaccinated person hospitalized with COVID-19 stays hospitalized three times longer than a vaccinated patient. In a Facebook post, HSHS St. John’s Hospital said the overwhelming majority of patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 across their 15 hospitals in Illinois and Wisconsin are unvaccinated.
A study from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) found the average COVID-19 related hospitalization costs $24,033. According to a snapshot study from The Peterson Center on Health Care and the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 287,000 unvaccinated Americans were hospitalized over a three-month span this summer, racking up an estimated $5 billion in medical expenses.
“With the people that are choosing to get vaccinated, even if breakthrough click cases occurred, generally speaking, they’re not as severe as those people that are unvaccinated,” Carroll said.
His proposal would likely pose a conflict with federal Obamacare protections for pre-existing conditions, but Carroll said his idea is only a “starting point,” and he could be open to modifying the language of the bill to find alternative ways to impose higher costs on unvaccinated patients to prevent vaccinated people from paying higher health insurance premiums.