How Expensive Are Hospitalizations by COVID-19? Evidence From Colombia



This study aimed to estimate the direct medical costs due to hospitalizations by COVID-19 in Colombia and to identify their cost drivers in Colombia.


This is a retrospective cost-of-illness study of COVID-19 in Colombia. We estimated direct medical costs using data from patients insured to a Benefit Plan Administrator Company, between March 15, 2020 and May 29, 2020. Absolute and relative frequencies, averages, medians, and interquartile ranges (IQRs) were used to characterize the population and estimate the costs of hospitalized patients with COVID-19. We stratified the cost analysis by sex, age groups, comorbidities, and type of hospitalization (general ward and intensive care unit [ICU]). Cost drivers were calculated from a generalized linear model.


We studied 113 confirmed patients, 51.3% men. On average, the hospital length of stay was 7.3 (± 6.2) days. A person hospitalized with COVID-19 reported median costs of $1688 (IQR 788-2523). In women, this cost was $1328 (IQR 463-2098); in men, this was 1.4 times greater. The median cost for ICU was $4118 (IQR 2069-5455), 3 times higher than those hospitalized only in the general ward. Admission to the ICU, having 1 comorbidity, length of stay, high blood pressure, having 5 comorbidities, and being treated in the city of Cartagena were statistically significant with direct medical costs.


Our study provides an idea of the magnitude of costs needed to hospitalize a COVID-19 case in Colombia. Other studies in Colombia have assessed the costs of hospitalization for infectious diseases such as influenza, costs significantly lower than those described here.


Nelson J. Alvis-Zakzuk Álvaro Flórez-Tanus Diana Díaz-Jiménez Pablo Chaparro-Narváez Carlos Castañeda-Orjuela Fernando De La Hoz-Restrepo Carmelo Dueñas-Castel Nelson R. Alvis-Guzmán

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