Long-distance Covid drivers can suffer financial setbacks as they struggle with persistent symptoms

Laura Crovo spent more than 10 months not feeling entirely good.

While the 41-year-old Marylander has improved significantly since testing positive for Covid last April, she continues to struggle with racing heart (tachycardia), persistent cough and regular fatigue. Additionally, she and her husband, parents of two children, are still paying off the thousands of dollars in debt they amassed last year due to their ongoing illness.

There are “people who are about to lose their job because they cannot work or situations in which they constantly see a doctor.” [and] They spend a lot of money, “said certified financial planner Carolyn McClanahan, founder of Life Planning Partners in Jacksonville, Florida.

Laura Crovo still has some persistent Covid symptoms despite contracting the virus in April last year.

It is difficult to know exactly how many people end up as so-called Covid “long-distance drivers”. One study suggests that around 10% of people infected have symptoms that last for weeks or months. Other research says the rate is closer to 30%. Some long-distance riders had mild cases of the virus initially, while others had a more severe version. Some had been hospitalized and some were not.

“Symptoms sometimes appear well after the time of infection, or they develop over time and can last for months, ranging from mild to actually quite incapacitating,” said Dr. White House chief medical officer Anthony Fauci recently briefed on a government research initiative to find out why some Covid survivors are becoming long-distance drivers.

“The extent of the problem is not yet fully known,” said Fauci.

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Crovo is one of those long distance riders who has recovered at home. She had tested positive for Covid in early April when little was known about the virus and treatment options were limited. To date, the virus has made more than 29.1 million people sick and caused more than 529,000 deaths in the United States.

Crovos symptoms were typical: fever, cough, headache, tiredness, pain, etc. However, they did not go away as quickly as in many infected people.

With a fever that lasted 25 days, she was unemployed for four weeks. Fortunately, she said, her employer was accommodating and supportive. She was on sick leave even though she had been there for less than a year. At another point, she only worked part-time for two weeks.

Pattanaphong Khuankaew | EyeEm | Getty Images

“When I was sick, I was tied to the couch,” said Crovo. “Little things like washing dishes or simple housekeeping would blow my mind for a day.”

By late summer, however, Crovo still had symptoms – mostly tachycardia and extreme fatigue – that made it difficult for her to do routine tasks.

“When I lay down my heart rate was fine,” she said. “Then I would get up and it was like my heart was running a marathon.”

She applied for a short-term disability. Her insurance company refused her because her symptoms were ambiguous and there was no formal diagnosis.

The only alternative was to take unpaid leave from work, with her employer promising her job would be there for her. She was away for three months.

“That was the biggest achievement for us,” said Crovo. “We had to dive into savings and I started using a credit card that I didn’t use often.”

However, she never lost her health insurance. However, there are options for anyone who does. The American bailout plan, which President Joe Biden signed on Thursday, has expanded the premium subsidies available through the federal health exchange (or a state marketplace). Depending on your income, you may qualify for help with other co-payments such as deductibles or rewards, or you may qualify for Medicaid.

If you lose your job but want to stay on your ex-employer’s health insurance plan (called COBRA coverage), the relief law also authorizes the government to pay 100% of your premiums through September.

“Always, always health insurance,” said McClanahan of Life Planning Partners.

Even so, striving for a cure for long-distance symptoms despite coverage comes with significant costs, said Crovo, who has consulted with a variety of specialists. She once went to physical therapy three times a week to help her heart stop working so hard.

Now she’s trying acupuncture, and each appointment is $ 45. However, a drug she used to treat her symptoms off-label is no longer covered by her insurance and would cost $ 300 a month if she were to take it again.

Crovo said she thought acupuncture would help.

“I’m a lot better than last April, August or December,” she said. “I can get through the workday, which is good for me and our family.”

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