Two friends in Texas were tested for the virus. One bill was $199. The other? $6,408.
Throughout the pandemic, the cost of coronavirus testing across the United States has varied greatly, often by location. In one extreme case, two Texans who were recently administered the same test at the same Austin drive-through location saw a more than $6,000 difference between their bills.
With the virus raging in the state, they wanted to get screened ahead of a camping trip with friends even though they were not experiencing symptoms. The two friends, Jimmy Harvey and Pam LeBlanc, tested negative.
Mr. Harvey paid $199 out of pocket for his test, and Ms. LeBlanc, who went through her insurance, was charged $6,408. Ms. LeBlanc was able to negotiate that cost down to $1,128, $928 of which she had to pay. (Ultimately, the insurance company dropped all charges).
Researchers say these discrepancies exist because the U.S. government does not regulate health care costs.
Another person tested at the Austin site was told he was only getting a coronavirus test, but when he saw the explanation of costs on his $5,649 bill, it listed tests for other contagious conditions including Legionnaires’ disease, herpes and enterovirus.
The New Jersey-based Genesis Laboratory processed the samples from the Austin location. Another Dallas-based medical laboratory, Gibson Diagnostic Labs, has run some of the most expensive coronavirus tests in America, in one case charging insurers $6,946 for one test.
The New York Times