Shelby County man pays over $100 for COVID-19 test

Shelby County man pays over $100 for COVID-19 test

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Testing is one of the most important tools in fighting the spread of this virus. There are free tests, but it’s also costing many people hundreds of dollars just to find out if they’re sick.

For 42-year-old Joel Mosby, his COVID-19 journey started last Tuesday with a glass of wine that tasted odd.

A growing number of COVID-19 patients say a loss of smell or taste may be an early sign of the virus.

"I went to bed. I really didn’t have any symptoms at that point. I woke up the next morning with a bad headache. My teeth were hurting a little, sort of like a sinus headache,” said Mosby.

The next day his temperature spiked to 101. He had body aches, chills, stomach issues and eventually, a tingling burning sensation in his lungs.

His doctor told him to get tested for COVID-19.

Tuesday, Mosby used the appointment only drive-thru COVID-19 testing at Baptist Memorial East Hospital.

"Incredibly uncomfortable, but over pretty fast. And then they told me it would be five or six days before I got results, but I got them this morning,” said Mosby.

The test results came back positive for the virus Wednesday morning.

With his insurance, Mosby said he had to pay a $150 co-pay.

WMC Action News 5 asked Dr. Stephen Threlked, an infectious disease doctor at Baptist Memorial Hospital, why the cost was so high for the test.

"It’ll be a problem for some time to come. Hopefully, even with the commercial situation that the prices will go down and there will be thankfully competition among tests and among companies, and hopefully that will work to our advantage,” said Threlked.

A Baptist Memorial spokesperson also says going through their drive-thru tent is equivalent to an emergency room visit, which is another reason why the bill was so high.

She says for milder symptoms people can go to Baptist Medical Group Primary Care Physician Care Units or Baptist Minor Medical Centers where they can pay for just the COVID-19 test and not receive additional testing that comes with an ER visit.

Christ Community Health Services on Third Street is offering free testing by appointment only with a recommendation from your doctor.

As for Mosby, he's now just focused on getting better.

"I'm over a week out so I like to think I'm almost done. That's my hope, so the last week was very, very bad but I think I'm almost done with it hopefully."

Mosby got his test back in about 24 hours, but it wasn’t the Rapid Response test -- those tests come back in less than an hour.

Those tests are not yet available in Shelby County. However, Baptist Memorial Hospital East is on the waiting list.

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