Now that coronavirus is spreading in the US, lots of people are going to their doctors, urgent care clinics or emergency rooms to find out whether their coughs, sneezes and fevers mean they have the coronavirus.
But some are worried about the cost of that testing after the Miami Herald wrote a story about a man who went to the hospital with flu-like symptoms and was told he might owe $3,270. (Turns out he actually had the flu, but his limited-coverage insurance policy left him with a $1,400 bill.)
Here’s how much it will cost you if you seek care: The coronavirus test itself shouldn’t generate a bill – for now – since the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is picking up the tab. That could change as more labs start running the test.
But the visit and other tests aren’t free. How much you’ll owe depends on several factors, including what insurance you have, where you seek treatment and what tests providers give you. For instance, those who haven’t satisfied their deductibles will likely be on the hook for more of the bill. Going to the emergency room is typically far more pricey than visiting your doctor or an urgent care clinic.
Those feeling sick can call their insurers to learn what the costs they might incur.
State governments and the Trump administration are also looking to relieve the financial burden so Americans don’t hesitate to get checked out — which could worsen the disease’s spread.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday required health insurers in his state to waive any cost sharing associated with testing for coronavirus. And the Trump administration is looking at providing hospitals with funding to care for the uninsured.
Congress is still hashing out a multi-billion supplemental spending bill to respond to the public health emergency.
The final sticking point: Making an eventual vaccine affordable.