Insurers argue COVID-19 test price gouging a widespread problem

The number of COVID-19 tests that sit 50 percent to 100 percent above the average cost has doubled, raising insurer concerns of widespread price gouging.

America's Health Insurance Plans, the country's top payer lobbying group, released a report July 20 that highlights not only an increase in out-of-network costs, but an increase in out-of-network tests. 

Now, over a quarter of all COVID-19 tests are done out-of-network — up 6 percent since the pandemic began — leaving over half (54 percent) of those patients overpaying. These gouged tests usually cost over $185 or up to $390 compared to the commercial market average of $130, AHIP said.

The price increases don't align with where tests are being conducted, as high-cost locations like hospitals are being frequented less as more patients visit doctor's offices. 

AHIP recommends Congress set an out-of-network price benchmark to limit gouging and support the development of more affordable, consumer-friendly testing.

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