Sand Mountain mom warns of unexpected COVID-19 testing cost

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RAINSVILLE, Ala. – Health officials tout COVID-19 testing to know if you might be spreading COVID and the Delta variant. One family in the Sand Mountain area found themselves having to hand over a hefty sum to find out their results and want to know why.

Jackson County resident Alethea Harris says her adult kids visited Family First Medicine in Rainsville for a COVId-19 test after being potentially exposed by coworkers.

Frightened but also uninsured, she suggested they get rapid tests at the drive-through.

“(I said), ‘Let’s just go ahead and do this today while we’re off and see if we can go back to work or not,” Harris said.

At the end came $150 invoices for each of her kids and her daughter’s boyfriend, which emptied all their wallets.

Her daughter’s boyfriend, however, couldn’t pay and his results were withheld by clinic staff.

Harris said their story is not unique.

“And that’s why a lot of people I believe, especially in the poorer communities don’t even get tested,” Harris said. “Because you know, they tell them it’s free and then (this clinic) charges them.”

Huntsville Hospital CEO Jeff Samz told News 19 that adults can be confident about free testing at their facilities, but not always with other clinics.

“If someone is uninsured, we’re not going to ask anybody for cash, and if you’re uninsured and need a COVID test from our hospital, we are able to get that from the federal government,” Samz said. “So anybody should be able to get covered for a test.”

Harris hopes others can learn from their experience, and get answers from clinics before choosing where to get tested.

“They just did not even give them an option. That’s how I feel. I just feel like they took advantage of them,” Harris said.

News 19 reached out to Family First Medicine before the airing of this story but did not get a response.

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