NYC coronavirus tests: People are getting CityMD bills for COVID tests 2 years later
NEW YORK (WABC) — Some people across the tri-state are getting medical bills for old COVID tests they took years ago. This is a problem that affects people who had insurance, not those who were uninsured.
“I waited in line forever,” said David Brouillette.
The New York resident remembers queuing in the cold at CityMD on W. 88th Street to take a COVID test before taking his first trip after the pandemic lockdown. He went upstate with friends to see the fall colors.
“We were all locked inside, we didn’t know when the vaccine would come and we wanted to be safe,” he said. “I kind of forgot about it, until maybe a month ago.”
He forgot about it, until a bill from CityMD arrived.
“I had to check the date a few times,” said Brouillette. “It definitely shocked me.”
It was a $219 bill from October 2020. The leaves have changed color twice since then.
He is not alone. Dozens of people have taken to social media to complain about their bills, some reaching $300.
“I’m crazy,” he said. “I’m still angry.”
7 On Your Side Investigates contacted CityMD several times to sit down and answer our specific questions. Instead, they sent a statement saying, in part, that they waited more than two years to send the test invoices.
“CityMD retained all COVID-related patient reports from March 2020 through June 2022 as we worked closely with insurance companies and monitored rapidly changing guidelines.”
The statement went on to say that the company “…began to release statements based on feedback we received from insurance plansas not all insurance products are eligible for the cost-sharing exemption.”
In Brouillette’s case, he said emergency care billed him for an “office visit” instead of a COVID-19 test, which his insurance would have covered.
“And I said it didn’t seem fair because I didn’t have a visit to the office, I took a test and they said ‘oh, that’s how we do it,'” said scramble.
CityMD also told 7 On Your Side Investigates in a statement that it was urgent care and “not a COVID-19 testing site,” even though New York City has partnered with the company to become a main test center.
Former New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio announced the partnership during a daily press briefing and thanked the company for its partnership.
And while many city and state leaders, like former Governor Andrew Cuomo, continued to talk about “no cost” testing during the height of the pandemic, the de Blasio alum said the CityMD partnership was free for the uninsured, he said nothing. about what would happen to those who have insurance.
“It’s amazing, how can this happen?” said Elisabeth Ryden Benjamin, vice president of health initiatives for the Community Service Society. This is a group fighting for affordable health care and against bills like the ones Brouillette received.
“There’s really no reason for this to happen,” said Ryden Benjamin. “The guidelines are pretty clear that there should be no balance billing for COVID-19 testing.”
She says the Community Service Society has received similar complaints not only about CityMD, but other testing facilities as well.
As for Brouillette, he will continue to fight.
“They told me they were going to send it to collections,” says the 25-year-old.
He filed a complaint with the New York Attorney General. The office told him they were investigating.
Here is the full statement sent by CityMD regarding this story:
To protect the privacy of our patients, we cannot share specific patient information without valid HIPAA permissions.
As noted on our patient website, the Public Health Emergency (PHE) is extended until January 11, 2023. Co-payments on commercially insured patients for COVID-19 related visits will not be collected at the time of service, but depending on their specific insurance plan and benefits, they may receive a balance after discharge.
CityMD retained all COVID-related patient reports from March 2020 through June 2022 as we worked closely with insurance carriers and monitored rapidly changing guidelines. On June 23, CityMD began issuing statements based on feedback we received from insurance plans, as not all insurance products are eligible for the cost-sharing waiver. As a result, patients were billed for care received from March 2020 to present.
Notably, CityMD is not a COVID-19 testing site, but rather an urgent care facility that can assess, treat, and prescribe necessary medications for people with symptoms of COVID-19. We are proud to meet a vital need for our communities.
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