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Hit with surprise COVID-19 bills, Americans forced to fend for themselves

surprise covid bill
Posted at 12:17 PM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-15 12:17:23-05

It was early May when Laurie Delgatto-Whitten opened her mail to find a bill she never expected. The bill totaled more than $3,000 for a single COVID-19 test at a Dallas-area hospital, a test that under federal guidelines was supposed to be free.

Months after receiving the bill, Delgatto-Whitten has learned that dealing with medical billing issues like the one she faced meant becoming her own personal advocate.

She spent hours on the phone with the hospital and her insurance company trying to get the problem fixed.

"I was always the one taking the lead to move it forward. The insurance company wasn't contacting me back, the insurance company wasn’t calling me back. Any follow up, I had to do," Delgatto-Whitten explained.

Health care advocate Michelle Johnson says her concern is that stories like Delgatto-Whitten’s might deter others from getting a COVID-19 test.

"If we want people to get tested and we’re saying it’s free, it has to be free," Johnson said.

Nearly eight months after first receiving that bill, Delgatto-Whitten is finally free of any financial obligations. She even went so far as to report the issue to the Texas Attorney General, who is investigating dozens of other similar billing problems.

"Speak up. The only way wrongs can be righted is if we hold people to accountability," Delgatto-Whiteen said.