New Yorkers billed for mandatory COVID tests want refunds


(WIVB) — Western New Yorkers are fighting to get their money back after paying hundreds of dollars for mandatory COVID-19 testing. One hair salon owner in the Southern Tier is fuming after getting billed for a test she took a year ago.

When Allegany resident Andrea Cole received two bills totaling more than $800 for a COVID test she took last year to reopen her hair salon, she knew something wasn’t right. “Governors orders, it was mandatory, so of course we would be shocked to find out that it’s not free,” she said. “I was told time and time again that it was supposed to be free testing. It was mandatory… Yet here I get a bill of over $800.”

She contacted her health insurance, Anthem Blue Cross, to find out why she was sent the bills. Cole says the company originally said they couldn’t cover the costs. After NEWS10’s sister station in Buffalo reached out, the company said, “Anthem is waiving member cost share for medically necessary COVID-19 testing.”

On Tuesday, Cole says she was told these bills will be covered, but not every New Yorker who was billed for getting a mandatory COVID test fought to not have to pay. “That’s too bad because I mean if you have a big enough voice to talk about it, but some people say oh well I’m going to pay it and then later find out they didn’t have to,” she said.

Hairstylist Elida Green dealt with the same situation when she was trying to get back to work. Last year, she was tested twice. She received a bill for around $400, which she ended up paying.

“It’s awful,” she said. “I think the hard part for us is here we are we wanted to go back to work, we just wanted to do what we were supposed to do, as per New York state guidelines and so it was either don’t get these tests done or don’t go back to work.”

Buffalo resident Terry Lush also has the same health insurance, Anthem Blue Cross, and says her son, who is on their plan, took a mandatory test in Florida to travel back to New York. A few months later, they received and paid the bill.

“He was doing the right thing. He’s a business owner in this area. He was on vacation and he was doing the right thing,” Lush said.

Both Green and Lush say they will be contacting their health insurance to try and get a refund.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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