COVID-19 Test Prices and Payment Policy

This analysis examines what large hospitals nationwide charge for out-of-network COVID-19 tests. It finds a wide range of publicly posted prices — from $20 to $850 for a single test. In many cases, the prices exceed what Medicare pays for COVID testing.

Federal law now requires private insurers, Medicare and Medicaid to cover COVID-19 tests without any cost to the patient and provides funding to support free testing for some people without health insurance, though it does not guarantee access to no-cost tests for the uninsured. Those laws ensure that most people will not have to pay out of pocket for COVID tests, though limits to the federal requirements mean that some people with and without health insurance could receive bills for COVID-19 tests. The analysis describes some of those situations.

The analysis set out to examine publicly posted prices at the two largest hospitals in each state and the District of Columbia. Although federal law requires hospitals to make COVID-19 prices publicly available on their websites, prices could only be found for 78 of the 102 hospitals examined. The prices reflect what they would charge for out-of-network services. Data on the negotiated rates for in-network services is not available.

The analysis is part of the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker, an online information hub dedicated to monitoring and assessing the performance of the U.S. health system.