Hospital apologizes after Long Island residents blindsided by bills for COVID tests

Nina Pineda Image
Monday, March 22, 2021
Residents blindsided by expensive bills for COVID tests
Nina Pineda reports on some Long Island residents receiving COVID test bills totaling tens of thousands of dollars.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Some residents on Long Island say they've been blindsided by bills, some of them totaling tens of thousands of dollars, for COVID-19 tests they thought would be free.

"I was extremely annoyed, disturbed, flabbergasted," Scott Nadboy said.

"I was completed and utterly shocked," Lisa Marschall said.

"I think it's an unfair and unreasonable charge," Manny Gillis said.

They're running out of adjectives after getting smacked with sky-high nasal swab bills for COVID testing at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn.

"We have received bills for $1,720 each for a family of four," Nadboy said.

Nadboy and his wife and sons twice went for mandatory swabs for a ski trip to Maine and were charged more than $6,800 each time.

"To be faced with an $1,800 bill, there's just no words," Marschall said.

On a Port Washington parents Facebook group we found a chorus of complaints.

One woman said she was charged $10,000 for 4 tests.

In another case, a man says he was stuck with a bill with no insurance.

After hearing about their complaints, Nina Pineda and 7 On Your Side got to work.

We found a spreadsheet on St. Francis' website showing testing costs just $100, but all of these people were also charged an emergency room fee of $1,545 each which is not explicitly stated on the page.

But all of the patients 7 On Your Side spoke to never entered the ER, work was done in outdoor tents.

"They took my heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature in the tent," Gillis said.

He says he never stepped foot in the emergency room.

"All we did was go to the tent in the parking lot, it was supposed to be free. She was like, 'we consider that an emergency room visit. I'm like 'wow,'" Nadboy said.

"They replied I had an ER visit and they were fully entitled to bill me for it," Marschall said.

Marschall said her swab was taken in a hallway because it was too cold in the tent, yet she still was charged $1,545 for an ER visit.

"I was mortified and I said I was out of work and can't afford it and she said we can get on a payment plan and find financial aid and I said that's not the problem," Marschall said.

A spokesperson for the hospital thanked us for pointing out this problem, saying these bills should've gone to insurance companies, not to patients.

They apologize for the confusion and wanted to be very clear, none of the patients are responsible for even one penny of these COVID test bills.

St. Francis HopsitalVice President ofPublic Relations and Communications, Chris Hendriks, released the following statement:

St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center has and continues to be on the pandemic's frontline, providing exceptional diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.

As a safety measure and to protect our patients, we have extended our Emergency Department into adjacent tented testing facilities staffed with physicians, nurses, and medical equipment. This carefully separates those who may have been exposed to COVID or who are presenting with COVID symptoms. Patients are given a full medical screening, including vitals and assessment for an emergency medical condition. An emergency visit, medical screening and COVID testing charge is submitted using appropriate coding to the individual's insurance carrier.

According to pandemic legislation, patients should not be responsible for any out-of-pocket expenses for these services.

If however, a billing issue arises, we are committed to investigate the charges and will attempt to rectify the issue with the insurance carrier.

We encourage patients to contact us if they have questions concerning their billing, and we will work with them and their insurers in an effort to resolve any issue. People who have any questions should call 631-465-4105.

7 On Your Side has sample dispute letters, links to get free credit reports, and information on how to dispute directly through the three credit bureaus.

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