Coronavirus testing: Palm Harbor family claims they were asked to pay $300 for test

Coronavirus

PALM HARBOR, Fla. (WFLA) – A concerned Palm Harbor family reached out to 8 On Your Side after a company recently tried to charge $300 for a coronavirus test.

We wanted to know how that’s possible when Gov. Ron Desantis said COVID-19 testing during the coronavirus pandemic is free of charge.

“Her fever goes in and out, chest pains go in and out, breathing is problematic throughout,” Jon Abresch said, speaking about his son’s 19-year-old girlfriend.

She’s too sick to speak with us, so he’s sharing her story. The teen works at a smoothie restaurant and doesn’t have health insurance.

The family called Friday to see where she could get tested over the weekend, knowing that the BayCare sites were closed.

“I guess no one gets sick in Florida over the weekend. The only testing we could find was Advent (Health) in Tampa. They wanted $149 for the doctor’s visits and $149 for the test. We thought that was insane,” said Abresch. “You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to say if you have the money to pay for a test you can have the test. It’s not fair, this isn’t as if we’re doing plastic surgery. This is something that is going to affect every one of us.”

8 On Your Side reached out to the health care company asking where those tests come from and how they’re able to charge. We have not yet heard back.

We also reached out to BayCare and the Florida Department of Health to see how they’re able to offer free tests. The Department of Health said those tests are paid for by the state, you can get them at their DOH sites by appointment and with a doctor’s note only.

BayCare said they do not get their tests from the county, they buy the swabs through their normal medical supply chains. BayCare said they have 3 COVID-19 testing centers in St. Pete, New Port Richey and Bartow are all run directly by BayCare. They sent the following statement Monday night saying:

BayCare is not collecting upfront payments at its three Covid-19 Collection sites but it is collecting patients’ insurance information. BayCare believes the new federal law will compel insurance and government payers to cover the entire cost. For patients who do not have insurance, BayCare will work with that patient and, if possible, with government agencies to cover the cost.

BayCare Health

A 4th drive-through testing site is run at The Raymond James test site in Tampa. That is a private/public partnership with Hillsborough County. We reached out to Hillsborough County asking how they’re able to offer the tests for free. Hillsborough County said their COVID-19 tests are coming from the state and federal government, ultimately public funds and taxpayer dollars. 

“When you and I are paying this big of a tax bill for the next 30 years…to [have this private company say] ‘Hey, you still owe us $300 for this test’ is insane!” said Abresch.

Some good news to report, the woman who was told she had to pay $300 by the private company was able to secure a free testing time at the Raymond James site in Hillsborough County on Tuesday morning.

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