COVID-19 test results could take time and cost you money

Reporter: Lauren Sweeney Writer: Jackie Winchester

Lee Health said it has cleared its testing backlog from 300 down to 25 thanks to faster in-house testing.

The turnaround time on results is about 24 hours, but the wait could be longer if the test is sent to a private lab – and not all testing is free of charge.

If you’re getting tested at your doctor’s office and your test is going out to a private lab, the wait is still an average of two to four days, according to both Quest and LabCorp.

Tests are processed based on priority, so higher-risk patients will have their tests processed faster, meaning for some people, it could still take up to two weeks to get results back.

Sherry Fischer waited 13 days for her results after getting tested at MedExpress Urgent Care, and until the test was negative, she couldn’t get steroids to treat bronchitis.

“I think it would have been nice if somebody had told me from the beginning there was a hierarchy to it,” she said.

“I think something that could have been stopped in three to five days was left for two weeks almost in my system, and so it’s taking me a lot longer to get back and I have no doubt I ended up with walking pneumonia.”

For Lee Health patients, the turnaround time is now a lot faster thanks to new in-house testing, but CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci said not everyone is eligible.

“Not all specimens we collect will be tested in-house because some patients’ insurance requires it to be sent to a commercial lab,” he said.

Jon Hess with Athos Health said not all insurance plans are required to make COVID-19 testing and treatments free of charge, so it’s important that all of us get prepared.

“The issue is, there is cost associated with that; they also want to make sure that they are going to be reimbursed for it,” Hess said.

If you’re not sick right now, do a little bit of research about where you’re going to get that test done, what’s going to be covered, what does your plan cover for testing.”

Fischer said she “probably won’t know” what her test cost her until she sees the bill, and she said she would have wanted to look at paying more on the backend to know beforehand.

Because Fischer went to urgent care to get the test, her sample was actually sent out by mail to get processed.

WINK News could not get any clarification from Lee Health on whether or not they’re giving patients that choice: Get the test in-house so you can know sooner, regardless of what your insurance company decides to cover.


The Florida Department of Health has opened a 24-hour COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
LINK: Florida Department of Health COVID-19 updates

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