COVID hospitalization costs three times as much as heart attacks, says CIHI

by Leo Almazora15 Nov 2021

Hospital stays related to COVID-19 tend to be more expensive than those precipitated by other diseases, according to information recently released by the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI).

Drawing from statistics available from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020, as well as forecasted values, the agency said a hospital stay for COVID-19, including both intensive care unit (ICU) and non-ICU admissions, costs an estimated $23,000.

In comparison, the average cost for hospitalizations due to a heart attack is $7,000, while admissions due to pneumonia cost $8,000 on average. A stay for influenza costs approximately $5,000 on average, and expenses from hospitalizations associated with kidney transplants reach $27,000 on average.

In total, the institute estimated the total cost of COVID-19 hospital stays in Canada, excluding Quebec, at nearly $1 billion during 2020-2021, including a tripling in expense between November 2020 and March 2021.

The average COVID-19-related hospitalizations with ICU admission, CIHI said, costs an estimated $50,000, over three times the cost of a stay without ICU admission. In contrast, an ICU admission for pneumonia comes with a price tag of $22,000, while getting admitted into the ICU for a heart attack costs $8,400 on average.

Patients with COVID-19 stay in the hospital for about twice as long on average as the average pneumonia patient (15 days vs. 7 days), and a larger share of COVID patients are taken to the ICU and ventilated.

“COVID-19 patients tend to be sicker and to have longer hospital stays. The data reinforces that the virus can cause a serious illness and not simply a bad flu,” said Nathalie Robertson, manager, Financial Standards and Information, Canadian Institute for Health Information. “Almost 1 in 4 hospitalized COVID-19 patients are admitted to the ICU and 1 in 5 die in the facility.”