HOUSTON - A Pearland woman got hit with a nearly $6000 bill for taking a COVID-19 test. And she's not the only one.
"What really shocked me was the nearly $3000 portion for the Level 2 ER visit. How did we have an ER visit? We never even got out to the car," said Aimee Brock, who says she wasn't sick and didn't receive any treatment.
Brock says a drive-thru COVID-19 test at River Oaks Hospital and Clinics resulted in a $5700 dollar bill.
"I'm a single parent and I lost my insurance when I was laid off. So I'm having to pay for mine and my daughter's testing, so now you're at $12,000 for this testing," said Brock.
We contacted River Oaks Hospital and Clinics. Their billing agency, Cognizant Management Solutions, LLC, told us this bill was a mistake and Brock doesn't owe a thing. Cognizant says mistakenly high bills went out to some other test-takers, too, and those patients are being told to ignore them.
But complaints are popping up about extremely high test bills from other medical providers and labs across the country.
"People going in for a test and wind up being billed for multiple things," said Caitlin Donovan with the National Patient Advocate Foundation.
Donovan says the NPAF has found that, in general, about half of all medical bills for any health problem have mistakes.
Here's what you need to know regarding COVID-19 tests and bills:
Congress requires insurance companies to cover COVID-19 tests and also provided $1 billion in funding for free tests for the uninsured.
"The first thing I would do is call multiple testing places to see who can test you for free," said Donovan.
If you receive any medical bill that seems too high, Donovan suggests, "The first thing you should do is wait for you Explanation of Benefits. Or your EOB. That's that piece of paper that comes in the mail that says this is not a bill."
Then ask your medical provider and insurance company about the charges, refuting any errors.
If you cannot afford to pay the bill, you can ask about financial aid and offer a monthly payment that you can afford.
Said Donovan, "It is in your provider's best interest to work with you so don't be shy about asking."
Brock is relieved she won't have to pay her bill, but doesn't want this to happen to anyone else.
"The first thing I thought of when I saw that was, 'What about elderly people that don't know they can reach out and dispute this?'" said Brock.