HOUSTON — Your COVID-19 test should be free, according to Ben Gonzalez, who works in the media relations department of the Texas Department of Insurance.
“The federal law that allows (COVID-19) tests to be free right now says that they have to be medically necessary,” Gonzalez said. “If you don't have your own primary care physician, you have to see a doctor that will give you that order that says you need a COVID-19 test.”
Gonzalez said TDI sees a lot of cases where service charges or facility fees are added on.
“We always tell people to ask first what kind of fees are going to be expected for me to pay out of pocket,” Gonzalez said. “We tell people, don't go to the emergency room unless it's a medical emergency. Look on the Department of State Health Services website, and there's a whole list of testing sites there.”
Gonzalez suggested calling two or three different testing facilities to ask what kind of fees they’re charging.
“Don't authorize any extra non-COVID tests unless your doctor wants you to get them there,” he said. “They may offer bloodwork or things like white blood cell counts or maybe checking your lung capacity. Those aren't covered by this free offer of the initial testing for medical necessity.”
Gonzalez recommended calling your insurance company to ask what facility charges were covered by your plan. If all else fails, call the TDI helpline at 800-252-3439.