WASHINGTON – If you are one of the 85 million people who have been tested for COVID-19 so far, you might be surprised to find a hefty price tag attached to your test.
Due to federal legislation, you aren’t actually responsible for paying it, but that doesn’t mean it won’t cost you in the long run.
Right now, congressional mandates require insurance companies to cover all costs related to COVID-19 testing, but there’s a loophole in the legislation where it fails to put a limit on the amount of money that labs and hospitals can charge per test.
The current Medicare payment rate for a COVID-19 test is generally less than $100 per test.
According to a report from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, some private labs are charging as much as $6,000 per test.
A survey from America’s Health Insurance Plans found that out-of-network labs and hospitals charged an average of $390 per test.
The CARES act requires labs to list the price of testing on their website, but the Energy and Commerce Committee said in its report that many labs aren’t being upfront and are actually price gouging insurance companies after the testing is already done.
In the long run, this is bad news not just for insurance companies but for employers, consumers, and taxpayers.
Eventually, insurers are likely to raise their premiums to keep up with increasing costs, meaning these pricey tests could ultimately lead to higher health costs for you.