• Timothy Regan, of Denver, Colorado, was billed $3,278 after he visited the a local ER with COVID-19 symptoms. 
  • Regan was never administered a COVID-19 test, but was given a chest X-ray and an EKG, and a doctor told him to presume he had COVID-19. 
  • Regan’s insurance provider, UnitedHeathcare, is one of many insurers that are waiving COVID-19-related bills during the pandemic. 
  • The insurance agreed to waive Regan’s bill after learning about it through an NPR reporter.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A Colorado man who went to an emergency room with COVID-19 symptoms says he never got a test for the virus and was sent a $3,278 hospital bill for his visit.

Timothy Regan told NPR that he went to Denver Health’s urgent care facility on April 3 with a low-grade fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

He was never given a COVID-19 test during the visit, though, because at the time, Denver Health was reserving its tests for patients who were sicker than Regan. Healthcare workers instead gave Regan a chest X-ray and an electrocardiogram, also known as an EKG.

When both came back normal, a doctor prescribed him with an inhaler. He was told he might have bronchitis, but to presume he had COVID-19 and quarantine for two weeks at home.

A few weeks later, when Regan, his wife Elissa, and his 1-year-old son were healthy, the hospital visit bill came in the mail. Denver Health billed Regan $3,278 for his visit to the ER, as well as for the EKG, X-ray, and inhaler.

Regan, a construction company estimator, has UnitedHealthcare insurance through his wife’s job at a nonprofit. United paid $1,042 for the visit, leaving Regan’s family with a $2,236 bill.

“We did not anticipate being hit with such a huge bill for the visit,” Elissa said. “We had intentionally called the nurse’s line trying to be responsible, but that did not work.”

UnitedHealthcare is one of many insurance companies that has said it would waive fees for COVID-19-related treatment, and when the company learned of Regan’s bill through NPR’s reporting, they waived it for him.

“We reprocessed Mr. Regan’s original claims after reviewing the services that he received,” a UnitedHealthcare spokesperson told NPR. “All cost share for that visit has been waived.”

Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms, told NPR that Regan is “definitely” not alone in facing large bills for ER visits during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The takeaway here is both the provider as well as insurance company are still on a learning curve with respect to this virus and how to bill and pay for it,” she said.

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