Woman Charged $17,850 for Urine Test

By Jeffrey Yano, Esq. on February 23, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

How much should you pay to pee in a cup? A Texas woman's case has made headlines after her seemingly routine, post-surgical urine test came back at $17,850 dollars. 

It's part of an unwelcome trend in the drug testing industry that some link to the opioid crisis. Others just chalk it up as part of America's broken healthcare system. Lawyers link it to the exorbitant, and sometimes fraudulent, billing practices in the healthcare industry.

One Expensive Urine Sample

In 2015, Elizabeth Moreno underwent back surgery to correct a spinal abnormality that caused her debilitating pain. Her health insurance covered the successful surgery, and her doctor prescribed hydrocodone, an opioid painkiller. On a later visit, the doctor asked for a urine sample. Sounds good so far, right?

Two months later, the bill for that urine test came back at $17,850. Moreno's surgery was covered, but the doctor used an out-of-network lab, Sunset Labs of Houston, to analyze the results.

High Health Care Costs

What's alarming about Moreno's case is the seemingly incredulous nature of the test. According to KHN, Sunset Labs charged $4,675 to check for (far too many) opioids, $2,975 to check for an anxiety drug, and another $1,275 to check for illegal drugs such as cocaine and PCP.

Blue Shield, had it even covered the test, only would have paid $100.92. Most health care industry experts find the cost hard to believe. Moreno's father paid $5,000 to settle the bill, which is still a chunk of change.

What Can You Do?

You should always double-check your health care coverage and be on the lookout for hidden costs and potential problems. Small tests can escape notice after major surgeries, but this is something a good doctor should be mindful about.

For seemingly excessive medical bills, discuss it with the provider and insurer first. If that doesn't work, it might be time to speak with an attorney.

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