‘Walking Dead’ actor Daniel Newman’s coronavirus test was not processed, but was billed for $ 9,000

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The potential cost of tests and treatments for the coronavirus may cause some people to delay seeking medical attention. Walking Dead actor Daniel Newman isn’t sure if he had the virus, but he still ended up with a bill of over $ 9,000.

Newman said he fell ill in early March. “I started having a fever, I just started having chills, and I was like, ‘Oh shit, you know, everything they had, I think I got it’ “he told CBS News Consumer Investigative correspondent Anna Werner. .

Worried about needing to tell others if he was infected, he called to find out where to get tested and said he ended up talking to medical professionals in the emergency room at a hospital in Georgia. They told him to come for a test. But, after doctors gave him the coronavirus test, they then told him that they were not allowed to process the test.

Newman said he was told, “We are not allowed to process the test because there is really limited capacity bandwidth on the number of tests that can be processed per day, so we are not allowed to send the tests to anyone with mild symptoms. “

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He never knew whether the test was positive or not, he said, but on release, he asked, was the cost covered?

“And they were like, ‘No, you just walked into an emergency room, it’s going to cost thousands of dollars,’ he said.

The bill was over $ 9,000, an amount he said his insurance company refused to pay.

“That, not even on a personal level, on a humanitarian level, it infuriates me,” Newman said. “The fact that no one can afford it. How … a family of two or four kids can afford even one person at $ 9,000, let alone four?”

March 18, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, under which health insurers are required to forgo cost-sharing for coronavirus testing. Several major insurers, including Cigna, Humana and Aetna, are also waiving co-payment for coronavirus treatment, but not all insurance plans.

Dr Tom Inglesby, who heads the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said if people fear paying for tests and choose not to do so, it puts everyone at risk.

“For most diseases it would be an individual decision, and people would take risks on their own, but here, if people don’t get tested, it’s basically a risk for everyone. a risk to society, ”he said.

Inglesby worries the most about uninsured people, he said.

“I’m worried about the uninsured or underinsured, those who have deductibles so high that they won’t step in until they’ve spent a huge amount of money trying to take care of them. ‘themselves,’ he said.

Medicare industry warns future insurance premiums could “rise” and now calls on Congress to put in place an “emergency safety program” that, if necessary, “would cover some of the costs. related ”over the next two years to“ protect Americans from the consequences of potential catastrophic costs.

“I think all this coronavirus has exposed the flaws in our health care system,” Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) said earlier this month. “I think it will make it worse. Maybe in the long run because it will expose so many problems, maybe we can make some corrections, but we immediately face a crisis that we are not really. prepared for. “

According to a 2019 census report, 27.5 million Americans, or 8.5% of the US population, did not have health insurance.

Newman’s insurance company did not immediately respond to CBS News’s request for comment.

In our series, “Medical Prize Roulette“, CBS News is working with reporters at ClearHealthCosts to bring transparency to healthcare markets. We’d love to know what you paid for medical procedures. Share your story and find out how you can search the pricing database of ClearHealthCosts in our sample markets or you can email us at [email protected].

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