If you attended a Super Bowl watch party and want to be tested for COVID-19, you might be in for a big surprise.
While a COVID-19 test should be covered under the CARES Act, there are other charges that some facilities or providers can tack on that will not be covered, meaning you'll get stuck with a bill.
"I was tested in December and early January," says Lakota Hebner.
It was what he thought would be a covered expense.
"I thought it was free," says Hebner. "That was my impression on the whole thing since the worldwide pandemic kind of deal."
Like some people, Lakota Hebner was notified he was possibly exposed to COVID-19.
"They advised us to get tested, and I did, and I came out negative both times," says Hebner.
He was tested twice through Deaconess, but it was what he found in his mail that caught him off guard.
"$449 for each day, so for a total of about $900," says Hebner.
Two letters from two different tests.
"It was for a bill of exactly $449," says Hebner. "It said if you didn't have this information within seven days, you would be liable to pay it."
But Deaconess officials say this isn't the case.
"No one should get that full charge," says Rebecca Conen, Deaconess Senior Manager of Revenue Cycle Operations.
Conen says they sent out nearly 20,000 letters in recent weeks, similar to Hebner's.
"The vast majority of the patients are not updating their insurance information, so we have no one to bill," says Conen. "And if we don't have anyone to bill, then we have to send a letter to the patient to ask them to contact us with their insurance information, so we can bill their insurance for the COVID test."
So far during this pandemic, Deaconess has provided more than 200,000 COVID-19 tests.
For the most part, the tests should be covered, but there are fees that are associated with testing that you can be billed for.
Deaconess offers assistance if you are unable to pay those fees.
"If a patient is truly self-pay, and we can confirm that the patient is self-pay, they have no insurance, then we can register that patient with the government COVID uninsured plan and we can bill the government for that plan," says Conen.
"It's still a big chunk of money to pay off whenever you just get hit with it surprisingly," says Hebner.
One way to avoid surprise COVID-19 testing bills, go to a free testing facility.