Turn to Tara: Need a COVID-19 test? You could get a steep surprise bill
If you're feeling under the weather and decide to go to your doctor or local urgent care office for a COVID-19 test, you could come down with a bad case of sticker shock.
This is what happened to News 12's own senior investigative reporter Tara Rosenblum.
After getting a test done at the suggestion of her doctor, she received two bills - one included a $165 charge for an antibody SARS COVID-19 test, the other showed a COVID test billed at $100.
The Turn To Tara team did some digging.
For the first three years of the pandemic, COVID-19 tests, were free for patients -- no co-pays, no out-of-pocket fees.
But in May, the national COVID-19 emergency declared by former President Donald Trump in 2020 officially came to an end, opening the door for testing providers such as Quest Diagnostics to start billing.
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Rosenblum consulted with consumer expert Chuck Bell to get his take on her bill, and he was just as surprised as she was.
"Yeah, that is pretty, pretty outrageous. I mean, I think there's a lot of profiteering going on with this," Bell says.
Rosenblum ultimately paid the portion of the bill from Quest Diagnostics not covered through insurance, simply, she says, because as a full-time working mom, she ran out of time and energy to fight it.
Bell says if you get a big bill, you can file a complaint with your state's financial services.
There is also a free nonprofit consumer assistance program called Community Health Advocates, who can help you review your bill and see if it can be covered by health insurance.
When it comes to negotiating directly with your insurance company, you have options.
"If you have a bill that is not covered at all, the consumer always has the right to file an appeal with the health plan," Bells says.
It's often worth it to file both a grievance within your health plan and an external appeal going through the Department of Financial Services.
Quest Diagnostics said its pricing is in line with industry standards and that it delivered test results that Rosenblum's doctor ordered.
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