I Was Sure I Had COVID-19 — Negotiating the Testing
With everything going on right now in the world with COVID-19, I thought I would share a personal story with you. Let’s just say the “testing” process for the virus is not easy, time-consuming, and downright frustrating. So, if you’re wondering what testing is like…here goes.
Last month, I went for a bike ride one evening and when I got back I had the chills. The next day, I checked my temperature and it was up a degree. I wasn’t worried, but I took it easy that day.
That night, the fever continued and Friday evening it went up over 100 degrees. During this time, I was communicating with my doctor and agreed to a wait-and-see approach for next steps.
Saturday morning, my fever reached 101 degrees. I didn’t have any other symptoms other than fatigue and muscle aches, but we decided I should get a COVID-19 test. My doctor didn’t have access to a test, so he suggested an urgent care or a stand-alone emergency center.
The Cost of a COVID-19 Test
Now, here’s where the fun begins (fun used very loosely here). Rather, there was a lot of frustration on my part. Here’s why.
I called the urgent care center, and they suggested I try and go to a Walgreens-sponsored center (which I couldn’t locate). They said I could try and come in to the urgent care center, but I would have to be seen by their physician and they would determine if I could be tested. That didn’t sound appealing — I just wanted a test.
Next, I called a stand-alone ER facility, knowing I am always advising others to avoid them if at all possible. They said they could definitely do a COVID-19 test. I questioned the cost, and they claimed they couldn’t provide the cost because of how the health insurance is handled.
Finally, after multiple questions, I asked what it would cost if I paid myself. They said $250. While it seemed high, I had a fever and just wanted an answer.
I drove to the ER facility and was impressed with a waiting room — most of us would enjoy it as a living room or family room in our homes. As I filled out the paperwork and provided my insurance card, I again asked what the cost would be. Again, no answer but I was told not to worry as the insurance would pay 100 percent, since it was COVID-related.
I questioned the fact that they were out of network and also questioned the sign that said all visits were required to pay a facility fee. At that point, I came to my senses and left knowing that it was going to cost between $1,000-$3,500 to be tested (a number I later saw in a report).
You would think that as we battled the COVID-19 outbreak, the stand-alone ER facilities could pitch in to solve the crisis rather than continue their practice of catching desperate patients off guard with unconscionable prices.
I knew the American Airlines Center (home of the Dallas Mavericks and Stars) was conducting COVID-19 tests, so I headed downtown. Finally, I found a place to be tested. It was a very organized “stay in your car” self-administered test. The only concern I had was that you simply swabbed your nostrils, and it was not the brain probing test I had heard about from others.
Then, it was a results waiting game…which they said would take 3-5 days. My fever peaked at about 103.5 degrees. After six days, the fever finally broke. The very next day, my test result came back as negative.
COVID-19 Antibody Test
Certain that the test was faulty, especially since I didn’t poke my brain with the swab, I began talking to my doctor about an antibody test. I learned that Quest would do the antibody test; however, when I went to schedule it, I found out you had to be symptom free for 10 days before you could go to their testing site.
After waiting the 10 days, I went to Quest and had the antibody test. I waited another 2 days for the results and again they were negative. I was congratulated by many for having the negative test. After the fever and the testing adventures, personally I wished I had a positive test result, which would have meant I was potentially free of future COVID risks.
With all the uncertainty around COVID-19 testing, I am still not certain I didn’t have COVID. But, for now, I will have to live with the results, and every time I hear efforts to increase testing, I will think about all the effort required to actually get tested.
At Holmes Murphy, we are always thinking ahead which is why we created this COVID-19 Resource Center to share with you the latest information.