Some of my listeners have complained that they had to cough up money to pay for COVID-19 testing, and they're not very happy about it.

As with everything in life, do a little research and ask stupid questions like, who's responsible for picking up the tab for the test? And as with everything else in life, things are constantly changing.

For instance, since March and lasting for the duration of the public health emergency, I've been explaining to my radio audience that all forms of private and public insurance must cover FDA approved COVID-19 testing, as long as the reason for taking the test is medically appropriate – and that's where the warp comes in. The question of "medically appropriate" comes down to interpretation.

The federal government said insurers had to waive patient costs, but only for "medically appropriate" tests primarily intended for individualized diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19. The insurers don't have to fully waive costs for screening tests for employees returning to work or to clear a child for summer camp.

Your test can cost anywhere from $30-$800. And on average, out-of-pocket costs for antigen tests is about $160 to $175. It is paid for if you have symptoms, if you have come in contact with a COVID-positive person, or before admittance to a clinic or hospital. You're all set there; however, you are responsible for costs if you're getting the test because you're traveling, starting school or daycare, visiting a nursing home or hospital, or returning to work. Chances are you're liable for the costs, so make sure you ask ahead of time so there won't be any billing surprises in the mail.

Backing up for a moment, did you happen to catch the disparity of testing costs from $30 to $800? I'm just wondering if the more expensive test is gold-lined or something? I'm going to update you on any changes. If you've been charged for testing, leave me your thoughts on our Facebook page.

So the question of who has to pay for COVID-19 testing depends on who orders the test and why. There will be exceptions but for a general overview, I wanted to bring this issue to your attention so you'd be fully primed and poised. If you'd like to get some more information, ask your search engine when you'd be charged for a test in Massachusetts and why.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at phil@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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