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It probably shouldn’t be a surprise that some people will take advantage of a terrible situation. But reports of the staggering costs of COVID-19 testing, from $153 to nearly $7,000 are still stunning.
As Voices for Affordable Health recently reported, many health insurance plans have agreed to cover the entire cost of COVID-19 testing and treatment. At the same time, reporting by POLITICO shows the costs vary greatly and can be quite substantial for patients who have to pay part of the cost. One national insurer was billed $6,946 for a coronavirus test in Texas, according to data reviewed by POLITICO.
In one week in Oklahoma, health plans received 175 out-of-network claims for coronavirus tests that ranged from $153 to $2,315 per test.
In Washington State, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler recently issued an emergency order prohibiting labs from billing insured patients for doctor-ordered COVID-19 diagnostic tests. Kreidler pledged to “explore every avenue” to keep prices in check and transparent.
In Oregon, the state reached an agreement with health insurance companies to waive cost-sharing with their customers who need COVID-19 testing. However, patients need to make sure they’re treated by an in-network provider, urgent care center or emergency room.
This spring Congress and the Trump administration assured Americans that coronavirus testing and any necessary trips to doctors and hospitals would come at no cost to patients. But the federal government did not limit charges if testing is done at a lab not covered by a patient’s insurance network or if insurers refuse to pay exorbitant charges.
The bottom line: Don’t be afraid to get tested, but be sure to ask questions about cost and coverage.
Have you been tested for COVID-19? Were your costs covered? Share your experience with Voices for Affordable Health.