During a time when COVID-19 cases are spiking in North Carolina and around the country, a new report is out showing that some are capitalizing on the pandemic to price gouge patients seeking a COVID-19 test.
The price gouging is specifically happening when someone goes to an out-of-network doctor for the test.
The average cost of a COVID-19 test is $130.
But when you look at out-of-network charges, more than 30 percent of all claims where “significantly higher” than the $130 average. And 16 percent of out-of-network claims for the COVID-19 antibody test were nearly $400 (!!!) or three times the average cost. MEDcare, for example, charges $195 if you don’t have insurance.
To make matters worse, more and more COVID-19 tests are being conducted by providers who are out-of-network. The total share of COVID-19 tests administered to out-of-network patients has increased by 14 percent since July alone.
So, to sum it up: More people are getting sick, more people are resorting to out-of-network testing, and those people are paying more than before – all while out-of-network providers exploit a legal loophole to maximize their profits and milk millions from patients and their insurers.
This isn’t the first (or, likely, the last) time that out-of-network charges have either priced consumers out of care or substantially impacted their ability to pay.
And it’s just another in a long list of reasons why we need consumer protections that guard against this kind of surprise, profit-driven billing.