My employer made me get a COVID test. Now I’ve got a $100 lab bill. Can I make my employer pay this?

No, but you shouldn’t be getting the bill, either. If you have insurance, the lab needs to bill to insurance. If you don’t have insurance, they should be billing to the COVID Uninsured Fund. With your bill and insurance card (if applicable) in front of you, call the phone number on the bill. Write down the date, and the name of the person you’re talking to. Make sure you double-check your name and date of birth with the lab (I recently called on one where they had added a letter to the last name and changed one digit on the birthday and the insurance tossed it out). Ask the lab to please bill it to insurance or the uninsured relief fund. Write down what their response is. Ask for a reference number (TCL doesn’t give reference numbers, but it’s good to get in the habit of asking anyway). Hold onto your bill with your notes for 30 days. If you get a second bill, call back and tell them who you spoke with and the date of the conversation, and let them know that they said they were going to bill your insurance, and now you’re getting a second bill. If you don’t get a second bill, shred the first one after 30 days.

Hold the phone. My insurance has to pay for my COVID test? How is that fair?

Listen. It’s about time that insurance companies were hung on the line for something. You should not be getting a bill for your COVID test. It should not apply to your deductible, coinsurance, et cetera (until, of course, they change the rules on this, because, you know, COVID); so you shouldn’t be paying for it at all. You’ve been paying your insurance huge amounts of money for huge amounts of time. Why shouldn’t they have to cover some of this crisis?

When I got my insurance, I chose a Primary Care Provider who was in-network with my insurance. Then I had an urgent medical problem and saw someone else in the same office. Now my insurance is saying that the person I saw was out of network and are refusing to pay in-network costs, saddling me with a huge bill. What can I do?

Sadly, you’re sort of at the mercy of other people’s kindness here. But one thing I do recommend doing is calling the doctor’s office and explaining the situation. Offer to pay the in-network price for the service, in full. Most medical providers understand how broken the system is and are willing to help out, though of course they have to charge for their services in order to stay in business and be around to help you when you need it next. If they accept, great. If they don’t, ask what their payment plans look like. As always, write down when you called, whom you spoke to, what they said, and ask for a reference number.

KyriAnne MW Boothroyd has been billing health insurance since 2007, and is a strong believer that the fact that people are forced to make health decisions based on finances is one massive problem that America needs to solve. You can contact her with questions at