Family receives $881 medical bill for flu swab

The nurse tested Braden for strep, Andrea said. After that, the nurse determined the best course of an action would be something seemingly routine in the healthcare field: a flu swab, done at a separate part of the clinic, in a TriCore lab.

The lab technician performed the test, and days later Braden got better. The medical bill Andrea received, however, was unexpected.

“A couple of weeks later, we got this outrageous bill for $881 for the test, and I was just shocked,” she said. “I just knew there had to have been a mistake.”

Andrea said she called Presbyterian’s billing department and they confirmed the bill was accurate. The $881 bill was what she was stuck with for a test whose only consequence, seemingly, was “stinging really bad,” as Braden described it.

The hospital’s reasoning for the hefty price tag? Presbyterian staff told her it was to be competitive with other healthcare providers in the region. For comparison, Andrea said the strep test cost $85.

“I thought it was the same thing. You stick a Q-tip in the throat for the strep test and up the nose for the flu,” she said. “I had no reason to believe that it would have been anywhere near this.”

According to TriCore, the flu swab itself cost $487. One possible reason for the $400 upcharge could be because Braden got the test done at a TriCore lab inside the Presbyterian clinic, instead of going to a standalone lab in another part of town.

“There’s just not much transparency,” Andrea said. “If a test is going to be this expensive, at least the nurses and the doctors can say, ‘Hey, I hear the test is pretty expensive. You might want to double-check before you have it.’”

In a statement from Presbyterian Healthcare Services, hospital staff acknowledged that medical bills can be tough to understand, partially due to the number of parties involved, including doctors, patients and insurers.

“Presbyterian continues to support…

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