ON YOUR SIDE: Galena, Mo., woman billed for “free” COVID-19 tests

Published: May. 3, 2023 at 2:48 PM CDT
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GALENA, Mo. (KY3) - Rita Stephens, a retired postal worker, warns others after her Medicare was billed hundreds of dollars for COVID-19 tests that she didn’t want.

“I got a package in the mail and thought, oh great, Medicare is sending me something free,” Stephens said.

Stephens received the package, but the tests didn’t stop there.

“Then a few weeks later, I got another package, and a few weeks later, I got another package. Then they started coming one or two a week,” she said.

Concerned about being billed for the tests, Stephens checked her Medicare statement.

“And sure enough, they were paying 94.08 for every package I was getting,” she said.

Since March, Stephens’ Medicare has been billed for each package, containing 56 tests as of today. Her statements show over $500 has been billed to Medicare. The claims list some companies, including Mars Lab Services INC, Primary Diagnostics Lab, Heritage Labs INC, and Cipher Global LLC.

KY3 reached out to the companies but was unable to reach anyone. Emails to Primary Diagnostics, Heritage Labs INC, and Cipher Global bounced back.

In addition to the billing, Stephens says dozens of daily spam calls have accompanied the COVID-19 tests, offering her more COVID-19 tests and other medical devices.

“They’re all on my cellphone. Just constantly. I don’t know if I’ve gotten any this morning, but yesterday I got like 15,” she said.

Stephens has reported the issue to Medicare and the attorney general’s office and has learned that many others have reported similar issues. She hopes that by speaking out, others will take the not-so-free tests seriously and report any suspicious activity.

“People need to be reporting this stuff. I want to save my Medicare as well as theirs,” Stephens said.

If you believe you have been a victim of a similar scam, you can report it to the Medicare fraud hotline at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com