It cost more than $1 million to treat two Ebola patients at the Nebraska Medical Center, said Jeffrey Gold, chancellor of the hospital’s academic partner.
That’s the direct cost of providing the care, Gold said Tuesday during a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce oversight and investigations subcommittee. It doesn’t include the opportunity cost of taking those 10 beds out of service, which he estimated was close to $148,000 so far.
“It’s about $30,000 per day per patient,” Gold said. For the first two patients, the average length of stay was 18 days. The third patient, Martin Salia, arrived at the Nebraska hospital on Saturday afternoon and died early Monday.
The first two Ebola patients were covered by private insurance. Hospital spokesman Taylor Wilson said the hospital is expecting to be reiumbursed.
“Insurance has not let us know what, if anything it will cover for these patients, so we haven’t received anything in the way of payment yet,” Wilson said in an e-mail.
In his testimony, Gold urged Congress to approve funding for full reimbursement of the cost of care “for these unique cases that are not recoverable from insurance policies.”
The Nebraska hospital is one of four facilities in the country that have special biocontainment units, designed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to protect against bioterrorism. The others are Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, the clinical center at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda and St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Mont.
A spokeswoman for Emory, which has treated four Ebola patients, declined to provide information about costs. Gold said Monday that Nebraska’s costs of care “are not that far apart from Emory.”
The NIH clinical center, the nation’s only hospital dedicated to research, provides free state-of-the-art care to very sick patients from all over the world. Officials estimate the cost at about $50,000 per day to care for Dallas nurse Nina Pham, or about $400,000 for the eight days she was there. St. Patrick’s has not yet cared for an Ebola patient.