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High Charges and Illegal Fees Leave Many COVID-19 Test Recipients in Debt

Posted on in Personal Injury

Chicago personal injury lawyer COVID-19 testing feesBy: Patrick J. Giese and Eddie Hettel

Timely, accurate health information is a necessity during a global pandemic. People across the country obtain COVID-19 tests for a multitude of reasons that ultimately share a common goal – health and safety. Despite their proactivity, many COVID-19 test patients are being penalized rather than rewarded by healthcare providers.

The New York Times recently reported the astronomical testing fees charged by some healthcare providers. Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan consistently charges patients over $3,000 for a routine nasal swab test. Huntington Hospital on Long Island charges patients up to $2,793 for a drive-through test. One family was shocked to learn that they had accumulated $39,314 in charges for 12 precautionary tests taken before returning to work and school.

The average cost of a COVID-19 test is typically between $100-$200, so why are certain providers charging such high fees? Many hospitals are able to bill the test as an emergency room visit, allowing them to charge additional fees beyond the test itself. Other providers bill for all services necessary to obtain a test, such as a doctor visit or facility fee. Any patient walking in without a prior doctor’s order for a test could find themselves paying for a facility fee, emergency department visit, and doctor’s examination, along with the cost of their actual test.

Presently, federal law requires insurers to cover the costs of COVID-19 tests, so hospitals and other providers are charging excessive fees even for completely healthy people who just want to be tested. However, healthy patients that carry insurance may still be stuck with the full charges depending on how the visit is coded, as some insurers can avoid paying for tests that are not deemed medically necessary, such as those taken out of precaution or as required to return to work or school. Additionally, although many patients carry health insurance, it often does not pay for the entire bill.

Sadly, these predatory billing practices are not surprising, even during a global pandemic. Healthcare providers nationwide have negotiated and executed complicated agreements with insurers that allow them to grossly overcharge patients for services, often leaving patients with the bill at a time when they are most vulnerable.

Tomasik Kotin Kasserman believes in taking a stand against predatory billing practices. Our attorneys have extensive experience working to reduce healthcare liens against our clients. Contact our Chicago personal injury attorneys by calling 312-605-8800 to set up a free consultation.

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