But many Americans also get tests at doctor’s offices and pharmacies, which will typically bill patients and their insurance for the service.
Federal law requires insurers to fully cover coronavirus tests ordered by health care providers, meaning the doctor cannot apply a deductible or co-payment to the service. Rules written by the Trump administration, and continued into the Biden administration, excluded routine workplace testing from that requirement.
In practice, insurers do often end up covering employer-mandated tests — it’s hard to tell from a doctor’s bill whether a workplace ordered the care — but they could start reviewing cases of patients who suddenly have claims every week for the same service.
“If they are starting to see a significant number of people who have these tests submitted every week, or twice a week, under federal law they would be within their authority to say this looks like routine workplace testing and not cover it,” said Professor Corlette of Georgetown.
This means unvaccinated workers who have to obtain their own coronavirus testing could have to pay their own fees. Some patients have faced surprise medical bills for coronavirus tests, which can range from a few dollars to over $1,000.
Some of those bills were the result of an employer-mandated test. In the last year, The Times has asked readers to send in their medical bills for coronavirus testing and treatment, and reviewed multiple cases of surprise charges for a workplace-required test.
That includes Marta Bartan, who needed a coronavirus test to return to a job last summer working as a hair colorist in Brooklyn. As The Times reported, she received a $1,394 bill from a hospital running a drive-through site.