Study Highlights American Behaviors and Fears Surrounding Contracting The Coronavirus and Covering the Costs of Treatment

HealthCare Writer

Updated on March 25th, 2022

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About Four Out of 10 Say They’d Have to Borrow to Pay for Treatment,

While Roughly Three in 10 Say the Government Should Pay All the Costs, 

And a Mere 3% Say They Should Pay Out of Their Own Pockets

New York, N.Y., March 10, 2020 — today released a study conducted to gauge American’s fears about the personal and financial risks of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. 

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Just about three in 10 (29%) Americans say the government should pay the costs of treating the highly contagious virus. More than four in 10 Americans say the government should cover the bills for screening (41%), and more than a third (35%) say the government should cover the costs of vaccination once a vaccine is available.  Most adults (57%) say their health insurance should pay costs for treatment, either fully or all except for co-pays and deductibles. 

Those numbers were not evenly split among the generations: on each question, a higher percentage of younger adults, as opposed to a lower percentage of older people, said the government should pay. 

More specifically, adults 18 to 34 are more likely than those 55 and older to feel the government should pay for testing (48%), treatment (32%) and vaccines (40%). Adults 55 and up did not feel as strongly: testing (34%), treatment (25%), and vaccines (31%).

But overall, only 3% of Americans say they should pay for treating the coronavirus out of their own pockets.

Americans are looking to others to pick up any coronavirus costs as they struggle to imagine how they could pay the bills if they got the rapidly spreading global virus. Almost half (48%) say they are not very or not at all financially prepared to deal with the costs. Only 31% say they could pay out of their savings, while 42% say they would borrow, either through their credit card (22%), their family (12%), or their bank (8%). 

Nearly six out of 10 (59%) Americans say they already have changed their habits out of fear of catching the virus, including stockpiling. A full 15% say they have stockpiled soap or sanitizer, and 11% have stocked up on food. Plus, 20% say they are avoiding public places., 7% have bought surgical face masks to wear in public, 7% have worked from home, and 5% have canceled overseas trips.

Also, many are heeding expert advice about washing their hands. Some 44% say they are washing their hands more regularly.

Still, it leaves 41% who say they are doing nothing different, including 48% who live in the Midwest, an area that is just now seeing the virus start to spread.

Overall, fear is high. Nearly six in 10 adults (59%) say they would not wait to seek treatment if they suspected they had caught the coronavirus. That includes 73% of those over 55 years old – almost twice the rate (43%) for those 18 to 34.

Yet, despite the general fears, nearly one in 10 adults (9%) say they would not seek treatment even if they suspected they had the coronavirus. Of those who wouldn’t seek treatment, just over one third each say they would not seek treatment because of health care costs (34%) or because they feel they’re healthy enough to ride out the virus (34%).

But for those without health insurance, the consequences of a coronavirus diagnosis could be financially devastating. Of the uninsured surveyed, 59% said they were not at all financially prepared to deal with the cost of the illness. This is in contrast to 26% insured through public insurance, such as Medicare or Medicaid, and 18% with private or employer insurance who said they’re not at all financially prepared.

According to the Center for Disease Control, COVID-19 spreads mostly from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when a person coughs or sneezes, similar to how flu spreads. Symptoms are similar to the cold or flu, so it’s important to see a physician when symptoms first arise so the illness can be identified.

Methodology commissioned YouGov Plc to conduct the survey. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,498 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken on March  4-5, 2020. The survey was carried out online and meets rigorous quality standards. It employed a non-probability-based sample using both quotas upfront during collection and then a weighting scheme on the back end designed and proven to provide nationally representative results. The survey has a margin error of two percentage points, plus or minus.

About is an online health insurance company providing a data-driven shopping platform that helps American consumers enroll in individual health insurance and Medicare plans. also develops and markets a portfolio of proprietary, direct-to-consumer health insurance, and supplemental insurance products under the name Pivot Health. Founded in 2014, the company is headquartered in New York City and is backed by PeopleFund and individual investors including current and former executives of and Priceline. is a 4-time honoree of the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing companies. For more info, visit

Media Contact: Colleen McGuire  |  | 651-338-8822

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