Better Solutions for Healthcare

Cape Cod Times: He died in 2005. This week, his mom was billed $120 for his COVID test

By Cynthia McCormick

November 11, 2020

POCASSET — A Pocasset woman got a shock this week when she received a bill from a Boston hospital for a coronavirus test on her son, who died 15 years ago.

Karen Eldridge said she found the bill from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston in her mailbox Monday.

The bill was addressed to her son, Dana Wicklund, who died at the hospital in 2005 after surgery for a congenital heart condition.

“I thought it was an old bill,” Eldridge said. “You can imagine what it did to me to open it.”

The bill was for a rapid coronavirus test that the hospital claimed was performed on Oct. 21.

The cost for the rapid SARS-COV-2 test came to $120, all of which was billed to Wicklund.

“I went from grief to ‘What is this’ to anger,” Eldridge said.

She wants answers about how her late son came to be billed for a test he obviously never received.

“I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m looking for how often this happens,” Eldridge said. “Is this a simple one-time clerical error or is something bigger going on?”

Whoever took the rapid test at Beth Israel likely got the results within a few hours, said Dr. Stephen Brecher, director of microbiology at the VA Boston Healthcare System and associate professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine.

If the rapid test looked for antigens, usually proteins or other parts of the virus, results could be available in about 15 minutes, he said.