‘Free’ Covid-19 Tests Yielding Surprise Bills

Update: When is free not free? When a medical organization sends a surprise bill weeks after a Covid-19 test that was promoted as free.

State Sen. Jim Gaughran won concessions from the Hudson River Healthcare organization after he received numerous complaints* that the company had been billing people who were unexpectedly charged weeks after they received  Covid-19 tests in Huntington Station that were promoted as free.

The Democrat’s letter, addressed to Anne Kauffman Nolon, CEO of  Hudson River Healthcare, read in part, “I am writing in response to numerous calls from constituents who received staggeringly high bills from Hudson River Healthcare for COVID-19 tests that were advertised as free to the public. I urge you to remedy this situation, proactively communicate with patients who may have been sent a bill, and refund any patients who may have already paid you.”

*(Note: The author of this article unexpectedly received a $260 bill last week for what was described as a “telehealth” call several days after the test was performed on June 12. The truncated “telehealth” audio call consisted of a few questions and an acknowledgement that results were not available. And have never been received.)

Gaughran said he had received complaints about bills that ranged in price as high as $760.

His office said that HRH agreed to email to those who may have gotten a bill tot to tell them to disregard the charge. They’ll also place notes on people’s acounts to refuse any payments that might come in. Anyone who might have already paid should expect a refund.

“These tests were meant to be provided at no cost for community members who may not have access to healthcare, or the means to pay the bills. Amid this economic crisis, few families can afford these unforeseen costs, and when the economy recovers, fewer will be able to afford the damage to their credit a
derogatory mark for non-payment would create,” Gaughran’s letter read.

Gaughran’s staff said anyone who has run into problems with these surprise billings should get in touch with his office.

Suffolk County Legislator Dr. William “Doc” Spencer is also working on the complaints, his office said, talking with county government and others to ensure people aren’t improperly billed.

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