COVID-19 Testing Is Not Always Free Like It Should Be

By Consumers For Quality Care, on August 20, 2020

COVID-19 Testing Is Not Always Free Like It Should Be

NBC Tampa reports on the experiences of nearly three dozen fitness center employees who ended up with surprise medical bills after getting tested for COVID-19. One uninsured employee ended up with a bill of nearly $1,200.

“I was shocked, but I thought we missed something, because we heard it was free,” said Jeff Cogell, a fitness instructor and Camp Tampa coach. “And when I got to the site, they said it was free.”

Tampa General, the hospital where the employees were tested, said that it is not a community site. Therefore, any patients who show up solely for testing are charged for an emergency room visit.

“This is a surprise medical bill, particularly when Congress passed two bills that mandate testing for COVID-19 is free, the antibody test should be free, and any related doctor visits,” said Lisa Gill, an health care investigative reporter for Consumer Reports. “What may not be covered are any additional tests that a doctor may order, for example x-rays, scans or bloodwork that may not be directly related.”

According to the report, a few tips to avoid big surprise medical bills include going to an in-network doctor, verifying you’re at a free testing site specifically for COVID-19, and calling your provider and insurer to make sure any charges are correct. 

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