Ask Amy: Do you have to pay for the COVID test if you get a bill?

(Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Whether you need to get back to work or clear your kids for school, getting a COVID test can be a struggle. Tests are supposed to be free, but one family is asking KPRC 2 Investigates’ Amy Davis what to do if you get a bill after you get your results. We hope getting answers to viewers’ questions can help others who may be dealing with a similar issue.

Surprise COVID test bill

(Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Chip Entz’s wife wanted a COVID test because she was planning to spend some time with a family member who is in a high-risk category. When she called a freestanding emergency room that provides COVID testing she says they told her there was no cost to her for the test and that they would just bill her insurance. What happened next is why they are asking us for help now.

Question: “We were shocked to receive an EOB for our insurance company that [the ER] Was charging us $1,500 for her PCR test and, as such, we would be responsible for paying that amount as it applied to our deductible.” They want to know if they have to pay the bill.

Answer: You don’t have to pay the bill. Chip, since your wife went to a freestanding ER, it is possible her insurance company doesn’t even know she went there solely for a COVID test. First, she should call and let them know.

Also, you should know there’s a new Texas law that took effect last September that makes price gouging for COVID-19 testing illegal. That law is now part of the Texas Health and Safety code and it prohibits freestanding ER’s from charging more than 200% for the same or similar service offered by healthcare facilities in the same or nearest county during a declared state of disaster (like the COVID-19 pandemic).

How do you file a complaint about COVID test bills?

Freestanding ER’s that violate this law can be charged a $10,000 fine for the first offense. On the third offense, they can lose their license to operate.

But the Texas Health and Human Services Commission won’t know it’s happening unless you file a complaint. You can file a complaint on the website here.

Can we help you? We hope sharing questions and answers from viewers can help other people too! (Google may not give you the BEST answer for what you are dealing with.) If you have a question you need help answering email Amy at and we will work to find an answer.

About the Authors:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.

Award-winning TV producer and content creator. My goal as a journalist is to help people. Faith and family motivate me. Running keeps me sane.