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COVID-19 hospitalizations from unvaccinated have cost Montana around $35 million, economist says

Josh Burnham
Montana Public Radio

A University of Montana economist estimates $35 million has been spent in the state caring for preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations among the unvaccinated.

Robert Sonora, director of Health Research at the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, gave the estimated costs from July to November of 2021 at the bureau’s economic seminar this week.

“This is in terms of hiring more employees, having to change the cost of actual COVID care, which is estimated to be roughly $20,000 per COVID patient,” Sonora said.

Sonora said the estimate is for patients who are in the hospital for two weeks — though he noted that there are some patients who stay in the hospital for upwards of six weeks.

Sonora said he used a national Kaiser Family Foundation calculation to make the estimate for Montana. KFF estimates there were nearly $14 billion in vaccine-preventable costs treating patients around the nation during a six-month period last year.

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Freddy Monares
Freddy Monares is a reporter and Morning Edition host at Montana Public Radio. He previously worked for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, covered the 2017 Legislature for UM Legislative News Service and interned with the station as a student. He graduated from the University of Montana School of Journalism in 2017.