Covid Fees?

Watch out for Covid fees
From The New York Times Coronavirus Briefing Newsletter.
Health care during the pandemic has become more costly. Providers need to purchase protective gear and sanitize equipment more often — even as their revenue declines. Dentists, for example, have lost billions as their patients have postponed care, and assisted-living facilities have had to take on fewer residents to help prevent infection.
To address the financial shortfall, some health providers are charging surprise “Covid” and “P.P.E.” fees, according to bills examined by two Times investigative reporters, Sarah Kliff and Jessica Silver-Greenberg.
One woman found a $45 fee tacked on to a dental cleaning in New York City. An 87-year-old resident in assisted living was charged a one-time fee of $900 for masks, cleaning supplies and meal delivery. The bill for a woman who took a one-mile ambulance ride included a $60 charge for personal protective equipment, even though she was already wearing a mask.
Some state attorneys general have said that charging patients directly can take advantage of vulnerable consumers or violate health insurance contracts and consumer protection laws. The new charges range from a couple of dollars to nearly $1,000 and seem to be especially prevalent in dentists’ offices.
“If someone sees a P.P.E. or Covid fee on their medical bill, they should feel comfortable asking questions about it,” Sarah told us. “You might want to ask your health provider why it was charged, or ask your insurance company why it wasn’t covered. If your health provider is billing you directly, you might consider filing a complaint with your state attorney general’s office. Maryland, Connecticut and New York have already outlawed this type of practice, all after they received consumer complaints.”
You can also be proactive, she said, and ask if any new fees have been implemented since your last visit.
“This is obviously easier for some services than others — you can do this for a trip to the dentist, but not necessarily a ride in an ambulance,” she said.