PPE Prices Jump More Than 1,000% for Nursing Homes — With Markup on Some Masks Exceeding 6,000%

If skilled nursing facilities want to follow federal guidelines on caring for their residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, they could find themselves paying staggering amounts for the required personal protective equipment — with prices rising more than 1,000% from before the pandemic to now.

That’s according to an April 7 cost analysis from the Society for Healthcare Organization Procurement Professionals (SHOPP), which studied a range of the items a 100-bed SNF might use for 30 days. The items included:

  • Vinyl exam, latex, and nitryl gloves
  • 3-ply, KN95, N95, and 3M N95 masks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Isolation gowns
  • Face shields
  • Soap

SHOPP noted that a given facility would not use all of the items assessed, since generally facilities use one category of mask and one category of gloves. The calculation assumed 175 employees to account for as-needed PRN staff and regular staff; SHOPP also noted that an assisted living facility generally uses less PPE than a SNF, based on resident interaction.

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Based on the pricing of equipment as of April 6, compared with the costs before COVID-19, SHOPP found that a facility using vinyl gloves and N95 masks would have a 1,064% increase in costs, compared to the cost before the pandemic.

The cost of the items was reviewed with Faygee Morgenshtern, CEO of People Powered Nursing, and Michael Greenfield, the CEO of Prime Source Healthcare Solutions and a co-founder of SHOPP.

3M N95 masks had by far the largest markup in price from pre-COVID-19 days, jumping in price from $0.11 to $6.75. That represents a markup of 6,136% — and as of the analysis date, the masks weren’t even available.

Isolation gowns also saw a significant leap in prices, going from $0.25 before COVID-19 to $5, a markup of 2,000%. The SHOPP analysis assumed that a new gown would be needed per resident.

The costs were calculated assuming that facilities are following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines, as cited by the guidance for long-term care facilities issued April 2 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Those guidelines from the CDC include making sure that sufficient PPE supplies are available, while the agency also provides recommendations for combating the PPE shortages across the health care spectrum.

A separate report from SHOPP, released earlier this week, indicated that operators may face PPE bills of more than $10,000 per day just to stay in compliance with the new guidelines.