What Washingtonians could be paying for despite statewide free COVID-19 tests

Additional costs could happen depending on where someone gets a test

All COVID-19 tests in Washington state are free of cost but depending on where someone receives a test, they could end up paying for services.

The Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner has required all insurance companies to waive co-pays and costs of COVID-19 tests. This includes the PCR tests that take 5-7 days to receive results and the Abbott rapid test that can give results in one day. Both tests can be found in Tri-City area clinics and pop-up testing sites.

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A patient could experience costs though if their healthcare provider performs other tests, like a flu or step test. These tests are a way for doctors to rule out other illnesses in their patients during the pandemic. Those tests are not deemed free through the state commissioner’s office.

Antibody tests are also not covered by the state because they do not show who is actually sick with the virus.

Depending on where someone goes to receive a test can also result in a bill, like the emergency room or specialized clinic. A patient could end up paying a visitation cost along with other testing costs. The Benton-Franklin Health District encourages people to go through their drive-through testing sites or daily pop-up testing sites to avoid any extra costs. BFHD asks for an insurance card from people getting a test so insurance companies can cover some costs of supplies – but the individual should not expect a bill from the health district or their insurance company.

BFHD testing sites do not require an appointment but people are advised to arrive early for a test due to the amount of people that show up in one given day. The testing sites in Kennewick and Pasco are open Tuesday through Saturday, 8 am to 1 pm, but people could get turned away as early as 11:45 am if the site is experiencing an overwhelming number of people needing tests.

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Health districts across the state of Washington are also warning people of potential testing scams. In some instances, callers ask for money and say they will send an at-home COVID-19 test. No health department is selling testing kits and won’t ask for money over the phone. Contact tracers will also not ask for details like social security numbers or credit card information. If someone receives a scam call regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, they should call the Washington State Department of Health and report the incident.