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Are Some COVID-19 Test Providers Price Gouging?

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When U.S. health care providers give COVID-19 tests inside a health insurer’s provider network, the average cost is about $130, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).

When providers give COVID-19 tests to out-of-network patients — without having to comply with the pricing rules in a provider network agreement — the average price is $185, AHIP says.

Providers charged $380 or more for 12% of the out-of-network COVID-19 diagnostic tests given, AHIP says.


AHIP has based the COVID-19 test price figures on results from a survey of 22 insurers. It weighted the responses by insurer enrollment.

COVID-19 is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)

AHIP collected in-network and out-of-network price data for SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests and antigen tests as well as for SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic tests.

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The percentage of out-of-network tests costing less than $260, or twice the in-network price average, was 76% for diagnostic tests, 77% for antibody tests, and 79% for antigen tests.

Commercial health insurers often base the rates they pay for a service on a multiple of what the traditional Medicare program pays.

Medicare program managers said in October that they will pay $100 for diagnostic tests processed by labs that usually report results within two days, and $75 for tests processed by labs that usually take longer than two days.

— Read Health Plans Must Post Doctor Care Cost Estimators by 2023: Federal Regulatorson ThinkAdvisor.

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