Amid a lack of federal regulation of lab charges, a diagnostic lab in Texas has charged insurers as much as $2,315 for the same COVID-19 test that costs $100 elsewhere, The New York Times reported.
Federal law requires health plans to cover the full costs of COVID-19 tests without a deductible or copayment. The federal government has allocated $1 billion to cover testing costs for uninsured people.
Many major diagnostic labs charge just $100 per test. But Angie Meoli, a senior vice president at Aetna, one of the country’s largest health insurers, told the Times that the company has “seen a small number of laboratories that are charging egregious prices for COVID-19 tests,” since insurers are required to pay the full price no matter how expensive.
Gibson Diagnostics Labs, a company in Irving, Texas, has charged insurers as much as $2,315 for a single COVID-19 test, the Times found. And while Americans don’t have to pay for the tests right away, they’ll eventually have to pay for them in the form of higher insurance premiums.
Gibson’s website says the cash price for a COVID-19 test is $150, the price it charges the government for uninsured patients’ tests. But it charges insurers much higher prices, according to the Times.
Gibson told the Times the $2,315 price was a “human error” and that it actually charges $500 per test. The Times found Gibson billed 117 tests at $2,315.
Gibson also told the Times it recently reversed a few of the $2,315 charges and that it would reverse the rest.
Other lab owners told the Times they didn’t understand why $500 would be necessary to run a single test.
Gibson later told the Times it would lower the price to $300 per test.