Strep throat treatment came with $25K medical bill

One New York City woman received the shock of a lifetime when her surprise medical bill to treat a cold and sore throat toped $25,000. The bill highlights the ongoing surge of healthcare prices and the issue of surprise billing, where patients receive high medical bills for services that were unknowingly conducted by out-of-network providers.

The sky-high bill was recently featured on the “Bill of the Month” series between Kaiser Health News and NPR. Alexas Kasdan, 40, of New York City, was treated quickly by her primary care physician for strep throat. During the visit, she was given a throat swab and blood test before she was prescribed antibiotics.

Later, her medical bill totaled $28,395.50, largely due to an out-of-network throat swab, of which her insurance covered $25,865.24. Fortunately, the doctor’s office said it would waive her required portion of the bill­­––more than $2,500.

The swab test covered a “sophisticated smorgasbord of DNA tests” for viruses and bacteria that are uncommon in outpatient setting practices. In addition, the test went to an out-of-network provider, a lab with list prices averaging 20 times higher than average. Another provider in network, LabCorp, would have only charged $653 for all the same tests.

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