Reported deaths due to COVID-19

There are lots of thoughts out there with regard to whether or not the COVID-19 deaths are being “over reported”, due to the fact that hospitals and doctors can receive an increased allowance/bonus due to reported COVID-19 deaths as reported on death certificates. It is reported that if the death certificate is listed as pneumonia or the flu, the remuneration is $5,000 for each death case, but if it is listed as COVID-19 it increases to $13,000 and if it includes a ventilator it increases to $ 39,000.

Is it possible that some medical institutions could take advantage of the increased allowance/revenue stream if reported as COVID-19 deaths? Could there be some underlying medical issues as well as COVID-19? Is it possible that there are certain political advantages in over reporting COVID-19 deaths? Is the Medicare so-called Bonus an incentive to report a higher number of COVID-19 deaths than is actually the case? Perhaps. (And in comparison to reported seasonal flu deaths: as of Jan. 18 only 8,200 deaths had been reported compared to an annual average of between 35,000-60,000!)

But hard to actually determine, but there is clearly this opportunity for the institutions to do so. We probably won’t see their financial statements. We may never have the facts on this issue, but it does make one wonder.

George R. Cook