Shannon Says Government Will Likely Cover Costs of COVID-19 Testing
SAN ANGELO, TX — As of Tuesday afternoon, March 31, there are nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tom Green County.
As the number of tests and positive cases ramp up, Shannon Medical Center CEO Shane Plymell gave his daily update of the COVID-19 crisis via video.
Plymell stressed two topics in his daily video: the cost to patients of COVID-19 testing and who is eligible for Shannon to test for the coronavirus at the two drive-through screening locations. One drive-through testing area is at the intersection of E. Beauregard Ave. and Oakes St. in downtown San Angelo. The other center is at the Shannon Clinic on the Angelo State University campus. The testing centers are open weekdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Previously, Plymell said the cost of the testing was $25 for the drive-through screening, and if the doctor or the nurse practitioner at the screening area ordered it, a COVID-19 test was an additional $55. If the patient has health insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, or Tricare, the costs are covered. Un-insured patients, however, could have faced a charge.
Today, Plymell stressed that Shannon’s first priority is treating the sick regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. “We are here to care for the community. No one is turned away,” he said.
The lab charges Shannon $55 to process the test, so Shannon is not making much or even losing money on the testing.
Plymell said that state and federal funding is likely coming to Shannon to pay for a majority of the testing. This is one reason why Shannon is not collecting payments during the screening at the drive-through areas. While Shannon does collect name and address information that could be used to invoice uninsured patients later, if for any reason the government does not fund a particular patient’s test is the only reason why a patient will be invoiced at a later date for the test.
President Donald Trump promised free testing for everyone earlier this month.
Plymell introduced Shannon Medical Center’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Doug Schultz who said that not many are being tested right now. He said Shannon is following Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines that are fairly restrictive about the testing criteria.
Shannon follows CDC guidelines that recommend COVID-19 tests only be performed for:
- Healthcare workers who have traveled to a community spread area and have a fever over 100.4 degrees F.
- Patients with a fever and signs of lower respiratory illness, like shortness of breath, who have also traveled to an area of community spread in the last 14 days.
- Patients at high risk, over the age of 65, or having underlying chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, and have a fever and signs of lower respiratory illness.
Last week during the press conference with City officials and Local Health Authority Dr. James Vretis, Vretis said the current tests available in San Angelo do not accurately detect negative results. In other words, if a patient tests negative, that does not mean the patient does not have the coronavirus or is not suffering from COVID-19, however mildly. This explains the low testing numbers and the current CDC guidelines that restrict testing to patients with a high probability of having the virus.
As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, the City of San Angelo stated that 451 people have been tested in Tom Green County. Of those 209 are pending from the lab, 233 returned negative, and nine were positive. The citywide testing numbers are a sum of tests administered at Goodfellow Air Force Base, San Angelo Community Medical Center, and West Texas Medical Associates, Shannon, and other medical facilities in the county.
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