Seattle man served with $1.1 million medical bill after 62-day COVID-19 hospitalization
via Terrance Daniels / Twitter

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."

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

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Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


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Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


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Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

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Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

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Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

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L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

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Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

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All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

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Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Among many notable moments in Joe Biden's presidential inauguration, Amanda Gorman's recitation of her original poem "The Hill We Climb" stood out as a punctuation mark on the day.

It's perhaps fitting that Gorman herself stands out in several ways. The 22-year-old former National Youth Poet Laureate is the youngest poet to compose and deliver an inaugural poem. Like Joe Biden, she struggled with a speech impediment as a child, which makes reciting her poetry in an event broadcast around the globe all the more impressive. But what's most striking in this moment is what she represents—the bright and hopeful future of America.

For four years, we've had an administration focused on reversing progress and taking the country backwards to a mythical era in which the country was better. The slogan "Make America Great Again" has always implied a yearning to return to some kind of ideal past—one which, in reality, didn't exist (unless you're actually into white supremacy). The U.S. was built on high ideals but has always grappled with the advancement of some at the expense of others, with the legacy of racism and sexism ever-present in our politics, and with injustice being inseparable from our imbalance of political power.

Today, though, we marked a distinct shift in that balance of power. We swore in our first female vice president, in addition to our first non-white vice president. And in adding the voice of a young, Black, female poet to artfully contextualize the occasion, we see an emphasis in leaning into that shift. In Amanda Gorman, we see an America looking to the future as we honestly assess our past.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.