How to avoid a surprise bill for your COVID test

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A COVID-19 test is often free, but sometimes, it can cost you an arm and a leg.

There are different rules for different situations depending on whether you’re insured or uninsured and where you go to get a test.

In a statement, Walgreens told 8 On Your Side COVID-19 testing is free at all of its drive-thrus.

If you have insurance, a spokesman wrote, “you will be asked to show your insurance card … and the lab may bill your insurer,” but you won’t get a bill from Walgreens or any lab partner.

If you’re uninsured, Walgreens said a COVID-19 test is still free.

8 On Your Side went online to check appointments, and we discovered, if you don’t have insurance, you have to provide a driver’s license or state ID number.

Once we did that, we found 19 locations in downtown Tampa were booked.

Only one location had three time slots available in two days.

So what about CVS, another testing giant in Tampa Bay?

The company said patients should contact their insurance about potential out-of-pocket costs before booking an appointment.

It’s unlikely but possible that there will be a cost associated with the test.

If you’re uninsured, CVS will ask for your social security number, driver’s license, or state ID number to submit a claim to the federal government.

The in-clinic visit will be free, but the company said you’ll be on the hook for any additional point of care lab testing.

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At CVS, the rules change if you’re screened and determined to be sick.

“No-cost COVID-19 tests are available to patients who have symptoms of COVID-19,” said a company spokeswoman.

Alternatively, you can buy an at-home test kit at local pharmacies. The price ranges, but you can find one for around $25.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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