At Last A Little Relief

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Yesterday, Congress passed the CARES Act and Trump signed the bill in a ceremony in the White House. The Secretary of the Department of Labor tweeted news of the events yesterday:

Despite its numerous flaws and wholly inadequate support for workers, we now have some relief for Americans. $1200 for every adult citizen, $500 for each child, for everyone with income under $75k a year. For those living large on greater incomes, the benefit phases out at $99k. It won’t be a permanent solution, but they did increase the maximum weekly unemployment benefit by $600 a week for 4 months. That’s a very hefty increase. That should help a lot of people get by until we can go back to work again.

This week, a record 3 million people applied for unemployment benefits. Of course, that number is preliminary, and it will be revised. Those 3 million people could be the start of a trend towards 20% unemployment, a number suggested by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin if we did nothing. I hope he’s wrong and that we will see far less unemployed than current trends suggest.

I’ve seen reports of people getting huge medical bills after recovering from COVID-19. On Twitter, I saw in one case, a person without insurance got a medical bill for $34k. And that probably comes on top of being laid off and losing a major source of income. The CARES Act isn’t going to help very may of the people with a big healthcare bill from just this one virus.

According to the Association of Health Insurance Providers, most insurers are waiving copays and cost-sharing for testing and screening for coronavirus, but they are really skimpy about treatment. Assuming a typical copay of 15%, that $34k bill means a $5100 out of pocket expense for the insured. So that’s the response of the private healthcare industry? Seems tepid.

WorldMeter says there are now more than 140,000 cases of coronavirus in America. That means more than 140,000 people have been admitted to hospitals for the treatment of COVID-19. Imagine for a moment now, the cost of testing and treating those people. Business Insider says that the average bill for an…