5 On Your Side

COVID-19 tests should be free. If billed, you can appeal

Posted February 23, 2021 5:13 p.m. EST
Updated February 23, 2021 5:50 p.m. EST

North Carolina is closing in on 10 million COVID tests administered statewide.

While the tests are free as part of the CARES Act, some local families tell 5 On Your Side they were charged.

"When I got there, they said, you know, it’s $195," Jessica told 5 On Your Side.

She works in medical billing, so she knew that wasn’t right. She refused to pay, and asked the office to file with her insurance.

"Sure enough, my insurance company paid it in full, 100 percent," Jessica said.

She posted about her experience on Facebook and says she heard from many others who had to pay.

One woman thanked Jessica, saying after she saw the post, she went back to her doctor’s office and was promised a refund of $450 for tests for herself and children.

Under the CARES Act, COVID tests are free.

"That’s with private insurance, public insurance, Medicare. Even the uninsured are supposed to not get any charges," says local, licensed insurance agent Christian Worstell.

The state operates multiple free testing sites. Worstell says the best way to avoid a surprise bill at other places is to ask before you go.

For anyone who is billed, Worstel says, appeal the charge!

"If you got a COVID test, you were billed for it and you think you shouldn’t have, file an appeal, dispute it. Take it up with your insurance company," he said.

But know, if your treatment involves anything more than a test, for example, if they check symptoms — you are responsible for that office visit.

"Honestly, I would never have known either if this wasn’t my job," says Jessica. "If I help one person get $200 back. I’ll be happy."

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