Over the weekend, The Albany Times Union published an article “Uninsured Stuck with COVID Testing Bill.” Admittedly the information around COVID-19 is very complicated, rapidly changing and can often cause confusion. However, there are several inaccuracies in the article that must be addressed.
- Since March 30, 2020, CCP has provided COVID-19 molecular testing without cost to any patient who clinically qualifies for the test regardless of insurance coverage. This is the test that determines whether you are currently infected with disease. We have performed over 8,300 free tests to date. CCP was the only private medical practice to establish a COVID molecular testing option at a time when there were no testing options available. A story that was also covered in the Times Union (titled: Capital Region gets new COVID-19 testing site, but supplies remain limited, March 31, 2020).
- CCP is a medical practice not a COVID-19 testing center like the state sites. We test only CCP patients for whom we assume complete responsibility for diagnostic assessment, testing, reporting and management, meaning you oftentimes need a visit, not just a COVID-19 test. We need to evaluate why you need the test and we take responsibility for what you do after the test. You may think you need a COVID test, but what if you really have asthma or congestive heart failure? With only a small percentage of the population COVID positive, the chances are high that there is some other clinical issue for which you may need care. This visit is billed through normal insurance or, if uninsured, we offer discounted rates for this clinical encounter. Again, the COVID-19 testing is free of charge.
- As a physician laboratory, we are not permitted to do any kind of lab testing on a person who is not our patient. People who are not CCP patients may become patients through our primary care offices or through our urgent visit centers. This entails an office visit to enable us to fulfill our role in diagnosis and management. Uninsured patients who wish to establish with CCP are billed discounted rates for their clinical encounter and, if COVID-19 molecular testing is performed, they are billed nothing for the COVID molecular test. Uninsured people who do not wish to become CCP patients and who wish to be tested for COVID-19 are advised that they may self-refer to any of the NYS testing facilities at no cost to them.
- The “millions of dollars” to which the Albany Times Union refers in the article are intended to replace the marked loss of revenue CCP sustained during the pandemic due to postponed procedures and visits, to keep our doors open, to keep our critical staff employed, and to continue to provide the critical care, COVID and non-COVID related, needed during this pandemic. They were not given to allow us to provide free care during the age of COVID. The funds are merely a small fraction of the actual losses incurred and are specifically designated to help us maintain our operations to care for patients.
This pandemic is difficult enough for everyone. The public can’t afford to have misinformation guiding perceptions and decisions regarding their healthcare.