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How much does a COVID-19 test cost?

The short answer: It depends.
This cartridge is used in the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test that detects a nucleic acid...
This cartridge is used in the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test that detects a nucleic acid associated with COVID-19. Cepheid says its Xpert® Xpress CoV-2/Flu/RSV plus requires less than a minute to prepare the sample and can detect the current coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 as soon as 30 minutes for positive results.(Source: Destinee Patterson/KSLA News 12)
Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 3:33 PM CST
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(KSLA) — Some people are waiting hours to get a COVID-19 test. With the new testing boom, some smaller medical providers are working hard to be able to provide the tests.

However, how much you will pay as a patient depends on where you go and how much time you have.

The average cost for a test is $127, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study.

“The reality of the matter is supplies are running out, and every clinic has to pay for those tests first,” said Matthew Lottinger, president of startup UrgentEMS.

As a new company, Lottinger said they have to charge patients in order to keep the doors open.

“We charge $110. Or if you’re symptomatic and meet the criteria, we will bill your insurance. But we’re still going to charge a copay,” he explained. “We have to recoup that cost; otherwise, we’d go bankrupt.”

(Source: Kaiser Family Foundation)

Places like Walmart, CVS and Walgreens require appointments. If you try to get a test at CVS, for example, you could be shelling out $139 for the test, depending on your circumstances. In most cases, you must be symptomatic in order to get a test for free.

“Federal law requires insurers to cover the costs of COVID-19 tests; but, unfortunately, patients are still being charged for related expenses,” according to Johns Hopkins University. “The law does not require insurers to cover the cost of the medical consultation or doctor’s referral that may be required before a test will be administered.

“Another reason is that federal guidance only requires reimbursement for ‘medically appropriate’ testing. An insurance provider might decide that certain types of testing (such as testing after a trip) may not be considered ‘medically appropriate’.”

Lottinger said most insurance companies are not covering the costs of testing if you need one to go back to work, go on a trip, etc.

Community testing is available for low or no cost at select locations, including LSU Health Shreveport. Click on the state’s name to find testing sites for Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

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