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BRIGHTON, Colo. — When Jesus Balderas found out his work partner tested positive for COVID-19, he was worried about infecting his family and wanted to get tested. His company also encouraged him to get a test before returning to his job where he checks safety equipment for the oil and gas industry.
"I was trying to do the right thing, not just for me but for my family because I don’t know if that time I had exposed them already," Balderas said.
This was back in March when COVID-19 testing sites were not as widely available. Balderas didn't know where to go to get tested, so he went to a nearby hospital and explained the situation.
"I’ve been having a scratchy throat, runny nose," Balderas said.
He said the doctor scolded him for coming in and refused to test him.
"The only way they can do a test to me it was if I really had serious symptoms like difficulty breathing," said Balderas. "He told me if you really want to get it [COVID-19] this is the place to get it. It definitely made me feel bad."
Balderas walked out without knowing if he had COVID-19. That's why he was floored when he received the bill for the visit. The total cost was more than $2,000 before insurance.
"Being a working class person, everything I earn is sweat on my forehead and for someone just to come, and here you go, we’ll bill you this much for pretty much nothing, you’re going to fight back. You’re going to try to find a way to hear why are you charging me this much," Balderas said.
His employer stepped in to dispute the charge because the company's CFO couldn't understand it either.
"We appreciate the people at the hospital. We appreciate the hard work that they do. We’re more than willing to pay for everything that they do. What we’re not happy to pay for is services that were not rendered," said Duane Dudley, Chief Financial Officer for SolstenXP.
Dudley spoke with multiple people at the hospital in an attempt reduce or eliminate the bill. He said the hospital agreed to reduce the amount by $250, but he wasn't satisfied.
A spokesperson for Platte Valley Medical Center released the following statement:
Due to privacy regulations, we are unable to provide third parties with specific information regarding a patient’s care or medical information. Per state guidelines and due to limited testing abilities, non-symptomatic patients were not tested for COVID-19 in the spring.
At SCL Health, we are committed to our mission of improving the health of the people and communities we serve, especially those who are poor and vulnerable. We encourage patients to visit the financial assistance page on our website or to call 866-665-2636 for more information on financial options available to them.