Seattle man served with $1.1 million medical bill after 62-day COVID-19 hospitalization
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Michael Flor, 70, miraculously survived a two-month hospitalization for COVID-19, but when he received the bill for his hospital stay, it nearly gave him a heart attack.

"I opened it and said 'holy shit!' " Flor told The Seattle Times. "I had to look at it a number of times… to see if I was seeing it right," said Flor. He spent 62 days in an intensive care unit which included an induced coma. At one point his situation was so dire a nurse put a phone to his ear so his family could tell him goodbye.

"He was as sick as you can get, with basically every organ system shutting down," said Dr. Anne Lipke, a pulmonary and critical-care specialist at Swedish Medical Center in Washington, according to The Seattle Times.


Flor's 181-page bill had nearly 3,000 itemized charges. His room averaged about $9,700 a day and his ventilator about $2,835 per day. Drug costs account for about a quarter of the entire bill.

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The total cost for Flor's illness will be even greater than his current charges. The current bill doesn't include his time in a skilled nursing facility, dialysis and the individual doctors who treated him.

According to America's Health Insurance Plans, the average cost to treat someone with COVID-19 is around $30,000.

The good news is that Flor won't have to foot much of the bill, if any of it. He's insured by Medicare and Medicare Advantage through Kaiser Permanente. The insurance company says it will waive most out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 patients in 2020.

The federal government also has put plans in place to help pay for the medical costs associated with the crisis. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act require that "private health issuers and employer group health plans cover COVID-19 testing and services furnished during the pandemic, with no out-of-pocket expense."

Congress also pledged more than $100 billion to help insurance companies and healthcare providers defray the costs of the pandemic.

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Flor's incredibly massive bill is another example of the high costs of healthcare in the United States. Even though the money won't necessarily come out of his pocket, the cost will be paid for by U.S. taxpayers and insurance companies — which are eventually shared by everyone.

Americans pay almost four times as much for pharmaceutical drugs and double the administrative costs of citizens in comparable developed countries. Health care providers in the U.S. also charge significantly more for their services.

If the country enacted laws that would help cut down the cost of healthcare, it would drastically decrease the price we pay for private insurance and as well as social health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Flor is happy to be alive, but the tremendous costs incurred by his hospitalization have put a damper on the joy he should feel after his recovery.

"I feel guilty about surviving... Why did I deserve all this? Looking at the incredible cost of it all definitely adds to that survivor's guilt," he said.

"It was a million bucks to save my life, and of course I'd say that's money well-spent," he told The Times. "But I also know I might be the only one saying that."

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."