By Consumers For Quality Care, on December 15, 2021
A California woman who exhibited COVID-19 symptoms in the early days of the pandemic and unsuccessfully sought a COVID-19 test was still billed nearly $2,000, according to NPR. This was despite the fact that Congress passed the CARES Act a week earlier, making COVID-19 tests free
In late March 2020, Carmen Quintero developed COVID-19 symptoms. An essential worker at a distribution warehouse shipping N-95 masks, she needed a negative test to return to work. Unable to find a test from her doctor or the local emergency room, she received a chest X-ray and a breathing treatment to evaluate her condition and was prescribed an inhaler. She was told stay at home and isolate herself. Despite having insurance and never receiving a COVID-19 test, Quintero was billed nearly $2,000 by the hospital.
She went to a nearby for-profit hospital at her doctor’s urging. She assumed the test would be free with the passage of the CARES Act. Unfortunately, the law did not cover those who ended up not receiving a test, leaving consumers like Quintero on the hook for the bill.
Today, the bills loom over Quintero’s head. She pays $100 a month, after unsuccessfully trying to work out a resolution with the hospital and insurer.
“None of them wanted to work with me,” she said. “I just have to give the first payment on each bill so they wouldn’t send me to collections.”
Hospitals and insurers alike should do what is right and follow the law, ensuring consumers are not the hook for outrageous bills.