Joplin woman says Freeman COVID-19 testing bill was nearly double anticipated amount

JOPLIN, Mo. – After some co-workers tested positive for COVID-19, Maria Beasley decided she needed to get tested herself.

“I, myself, had been experiencing I guess allergies lately and I just had this weird, inconsistent cough, and I just wasn’t feeling the best, so I went ahead and got tested just to be on the safe side,” she explained.

She was a bit worried about the cost, but she put in a call to Freeman Urgent Care to find out more.

“They had told me it would be $500-800 because I don’t have insurance, so it would be $500-800 and I thought, ‘That’s a lot of money.’ So the lady on the phone said, ‘I can direct you to our free testing,’ and then she gave me a phone number for Joplin and then one for Webb City.”

Beasley’s initial relief at opening up her negative test results were quickly overshadowed by her bill.Bill

“I was pretty surprised because they had initially said if I were to be charged anything at all, it wouldn’t be over $60, so to see $108, which is almost double that amount, I was really surprised and I was wondering why I was told in the first place it wouldn’t be more than $60.”

Freeman says that they don’t offer a free testing site for COVID-19. It has, however, applied for a federal program to help lower the cost through the Health Resources and Services Administrator (HRSA). In a statement, Freeman said in part: “Freeman physician billing is currently undergoing the process of having all qualified accounts sent to HRSA for reimbursement consideration. This patient, based on information we have, will be one of the patients sent to HRSA for consideration.”

That’s potentially good news for Beasley, but she still feels like she was misled.

“I know it’s not just me either. Like, I know that it’s other people, so just looking into the situation and seeing if they could have like a different statement being released. I don’t want to say it’s false advertisement, but I mean you’re being told it’s gonna be free, or not more than $60 and then you get a bill for $108 and it just doesn’t make much sense,” stated Beasley.

Full Statement from Freeman:

“Freeman doesn’t offer a “free” testing site for COVID.

Freeman has, however, identified and applied for a federal program to assist our customers with testing and direct treatment to COVID-19. All patients with no other health insurance or pay sources, such as employer or state Medicaid, will be sent to Health Resources and Services Administrator (HRSA) for compensation. If HRSA approves, they (HRSA) will pay for the test and/or treatment directly related to COVID-19 and there will be no balance billing to customer.

Eligible patients must be seeking treatment or services that are directly related to COVID with a primary diagnosis of COVID or suspicion of COVID, such the testing to determine if positive or negative.

Freeman physician billing is currently undergoing the process of having all qualified accounts sent to HRSA for reimbursement consideration.

This patient based on information we have will be one of the patients sent to HRSA for consideration.”

Freeman defines “suspicion of COVID” as:

Fever (100.04 or above), or chills

             Cough, if yes to cough – is this a new cough that could be related to the other symptoms (not just normal cough, allergies, etc.)

             Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

             Fatigue

             Headache

             New loss of taste or smell

             Sore throat

             Congestion or runny nose

             Nausea or vomiting

             Diarrhea

Two major legislative efforts passed at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 – the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – required health coverage for COVID-19 testing – including the test itself, the related visit, and other services related to testing – with no cost-sharing for people covered by most private health plans, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Federal laws also made resources available to finance free testing for uninsured individuals, but does not guarantee access to free COVID-19 testing for the uninsured.

There are limits to federal law coverage requirements that mean some patients with health coverage may nonetheless receive bills for COVID-19 diagnostic testing and related services, and those bills often can be widely different from patient to patient.