After putting her life at risk to work during the pandemic, Kit Miller may now pay the price. As a former employee of Little Sisters of the Poor Nursing Home, she received a bill from Discover Labs last month for $22,735.
"I was like, 'What on Earth is this!' And then I looked at it and you're kidding me, for COVID tests?"
The bill was for hundreds of COVID tests Miller received between 2021 and 2022 as part of a state mandate. All nursing home employees were required to undergo testing. Miller says she received tests twice a week, every week, throughout the pandemic.
"We were all told it was a state mandate so the state was picking up the tab for that."
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says it would have picked up the tab if the nursing home had used a state-contracted lab, but it didn't, so it's on the hook. The problem is the nursing home closed a year ago and, Miller says, insurance has refused to pay for the tests because they weren't medically necessary.
"A doctor didn't order that and you're not sick, so we're not paying for that."
Miller says that means employees are left holding the bag, "It's like, what do we do?"
While some of her co-workers also received bills, she says, they range from $2,000 to $11,000, "It just doesn't add up because if it was legitimate, everyone would have gotten the same thing."
If the amount due doesn't add up, she says, neither does the due date. Who, she wonders, waits a year to collect on a bill for $22,735?
"After six months if they didn't get paid they wouldn't have kept coming another year or two. I don't really know where to go from here," said Miller. "All I care about is I want this bill to be gone and I want it to be gone for my friends too because I know it's been a hard year for everybody."
Discover Labs says it fell behind on billing during the pandemic and it only billed employees to make sure they provide their correct insurance information, but it's unclear if the insurer - Christian Brothers Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois – will pay. It says it decides claims based on members' benefits and the law. By law, insurers didn't have to cover preventative testing during the pandemic, even if the state required the testing, which Colorado did, but again it only paid if the facility used state-contracted labs. Little Sisters of the Poor still insists it shouldn't have to pay and neither should its employees.
Miller says the only thing she knows is, she's not paying, "I certainly don't have $23,000. If I did be on a trip to Hawaii or something."
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