In June 2021, 32-year-old Alyssa Maness was diagnosed with POTS, a nervous system disorder that her doctors believe was triggered by Covid.
POTS, or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, caused numbness throughout her arms and legs, a pins-and-needles sensation and sudden drops in her heart rate.
Because her heart problems didn’t go away, in early 2022 her doctors began conducting a series of lab tests in an attempt to better understand her long-term Covid symptoms.
When Maness submitted the testing to her insurance — Anthem Blue Cross — the provider deemed the testing medically unnecessary and decreased to cover the cost. She’s now on the hook for the medical bills, which have already cost her more than $10,000 out of pocket.
“I’m kind of at the point sadly where I’ve just been given up,” said Maness, a Ph.D. student in Sacramento, California. Many of her insurance appeals have been denied. “I don’t have the mental bandwidth to even battle this anymore, because it’s become clear that it is most likely going to be unsuccessful.”
Maness is among several long Covid patients in the United States interviewed by NBC News who say their insurance providers are declining to provide coverage related to their illness.
But there are likely many more. Up to 4 million full-time workers are out of the labor force due to long Covid, according to research from the Brookings Institutiona Washington-based think tank.
NBC News has asked insurance providers for comment.
For some, the care they need to manage their chronic illness has left them in medical debt, which can easily balloon into the thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars, experts say. It’s unclear how many are being denied coverage, but a paper published in May in JAMA Health Forum