Milton woman surprised to receive bill after ‘free’ COVID-19 test

Coronavirus

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — A woman from Milton was surprised when she received a bill in the mail from Ascension Sacred Heart two weeks after her nasal swab at the hospital’s drive-thru testing location.

The bill says the cost is $69 and after adjustments, Tonya Hall owes $32.

“It’s not a matter of the cost of the bill,” Hall said. “Why am I being billed?”

Florida Gov. Ron Desantis said testing during the pandemic is free of charge. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires federal and private insurance companies to pay for testing. Federal funding also allows free testing for those without insurance.

“She never once asked me for my address, my telephone number or even insurance information,” Hall said.

She said she can afford the bill but she was confused since it should be free and is afraid this might dissuade others from getting tested.

“What concerns me is the next John Q. Public out there that doesn’t have the money to pay for it or doesn’t have the insurance and gets sick and decides, ‘Well I can’t afford to pay a bill so I’m not going to go get tested and I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing,'” she said.

A Sacred Heart spokesperson said the hospital is not charging people for its swabbing services but patients could receive a bill from a commercial lab independent of the hospital.

Hall’s bill is directly from Ascension Sacred Heart. It’s unclear what the hospital will do but a spokesperson says they are looking into it. News 5 will continue to follow this story and provide updates.

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