The cost of COVID19 testing and national health care.

I have been tested twice, referred by my doctor, for the corona virus. Both times the results came back negative, thankfully.

My retirement health insurance was charged $100 for each test. I paid nothing.

But The New York Times has investigated a number of complaints that they have received. It turns out that even some of those with health insurance are being illegally charged for the COVID19 test.

I will get back to that in a moment.

I want to write about Paris.

I love Paris.

Anne and I have made plans about returning to our retirement travel.

When this is past, after first seeing the family in Brooklyn, we are taking a trip.

Paris, we agreed.


Every summer, a big section of the walkway along the River Seine in central Paris is transformed into a temporary “beach,” complete with deck chairs, pop-up beach bars and play areas for children. This year, “Paris Plage” (Paris Beach) has offered a tranquil getaway for city-bound Parisians, but the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic is never far away.

Every afternoon this month about 200 people have lined up — at least a yard apart — to have both the swab test for an active infection, and a finger-prick test to detect antibodies indicating a previous one. They get the antibody test results right there within just 10 minutes, while the swab results come online or over the phone within days.

“I jog along the quays, so when I saw this and saw how easy it was to get tested, I decided to sign up,” a Parisian named Alexis told CBS News. He and his girlfriend Pauline are going to a wedding in two weeks and they felt a test would be the responsible thing to do.

“There will be lots of people, so we wanted to make sure we were safe,” he said.

As the doctor gave them the antibody test results, they looked visibly relieved and gave a thumbs up: “It’s negative!”

What’s amazing here is that, for example, if you don’t have your Social Security number yet or your paperwork in order, it doesn’t matter. You can be a tourist and get tested for free here, just like that.”

Allyson said she was “absolutely” grateful to be in France during the pandemic, rather than in her home country.

My heart is bursting with pride and gratitude towards this city and this country and how they are handling this. I am so glad to be here,” she said, her voice breaking with emotion. “This is how it should be done.”

“It’s easy. I don’t have to be French, I don’t have to be wealthy, I don’t have to be famous,” she said. “All I have to be is here, interested, and wanting to protect my community. That’s how easy it can be and that’s how it should be.”

France has national health care. We don’t.

Back to The New York Times investigation.

For months, Americans have been told not to worry about the costs of coronavirus tests, which are crucial to stopping the pandemic’s spread. “It is critical that Americans have peace of mind knowing that cost won’t be a barrier to testing during this national public health emergency,” Medicare’s administrator, Seema Verma, said in April.

Congress passed laws requiring insurers to pay for tests, and the Trump administration created a program to cover the bills of the uninsured. Cities and states set up no-cost testing sites.

Patients, whether with or without insurance, are beginning to find holes in those new coverage programs. Nationwide, people have been hit with unexpected fees and denied claims related to coronavirus tests, according to dozens of bills that The New York Times has reviewed. Insurers have told these patients they could owe from a few dollars to thousands.

The NYT estimates that the impact of incorrect test billing could add up to hundreds of thousands of Americans receiving unexpected bills at a huge cost.

Insurance companies like United Health blame the overcharges and illegal profits on coding problems or point the finger at doctors.

The insurers faulted the complexity of American medical billing, which can sometimes make it hard to tell when a coronavirus test is provided. Insurers can’t know to cover a claim differently if hospitals and doctor offices don’t use the right codes.


Insurance companies rake in billions from our lousy profit-based health care system.

Try spending some of those profits to hire some people to figure out the damn codes.

Trump’s response to the pandemic has been a disaster with the death toll approaching 200,000. But within the giant disaster are smaller ones.

The hidden cost of COVID testing is one of them.

Those who attacked Bernie’s proposals for Medicare for All said we all love the way the system works now.

But I’m thinking doesn’t Paris seem good right about now.

2 thoughts on “The cost of COVID19 testing and national health care.

  1. I had one BAD experience with medical codes. I was treated at Stanford’s cyberknife back in Feb. 2008 for a brain tumor. Unfortunately, someone put in the wrong code. I kept contacting Stanford AND my HMO. Over and over and over again FOR A WHOLE YEAR.
    Finally it was discovered that my insurance through TRIP had put in a wrong code.
    It was resolved and I only paid $10. for the whole treatment.
    What a disgusting experience. At least it didn’t end up costing me thousands of dollars. [It was another tremendous amount of paper work to be treated at Stanford though an HMO. It involved months of letters from various specialists.
    It is a rotten system.]
    Trump supporters and the GOP scream about Medicare for All being ‘socialism’. Either that or ‘it’s too expensive’. It’s much better to have millions with no health insurance and millions who can’t afford the co-pays or deductibles and therefore never go to the doctor. /s
    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the media only told facts?

  2. Fred,
    There are so many things in our country, thanks to the Republicans, that are so bizarre that they defy description. Their take on health care is at the top of the list. Their organization is not a legitimate political party. Far from it, it’s a death cult! Only the hopelessly stupid, clinically insane, or multi-billionaires support this death cult that’ll eventually do them in as well.

    By the way, I also like Paris. When you go, do you mind if I tag along. I’m safe because I haven’t left my house and garden since last March. I’ll gladly carry your suit cases and bags. Enjoy

    (P.S. Yeah, I know… Your suit cases now have wheels.)

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