A Brooklyn-based group of physicians is facing a class action lawsuit alleging it charged hundreds of dollars for coronavirus testing to New Yorkers who believed they were receiving them free of charge.
Two Bronx residents, Sabine Schumacher, and Linda Cunningham, filed the lawsuit last week. They seek more than $10,000,000 in damages for the couple as well as for any New Yorkers who claim they were overcharged. CareCube is accused of illegally charging the couple $450 for two blood tests they performed last June.
“It’s sad that companies like CareCube are exploiting people during a global pandemic just to make a quick buck, especially in a hard-hit area like New York City,” Ms. Cunningham said in a statement.
CareCube has 20 testing locations in the city. There have been increasing reports that CareCube overcharged customers who thought their tests were free. Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, announced last month that she was opening an investigation into CareCube after receiving complaints from her office and other New York City leaders.
“We cannot create harmful financial barriers that keep our communities from seeking testing,” Ms. James said at the time. “CareCube and all Covid-19 test providers have a responsibility to be accurate and transparent in their billing process.”
From as early as August 2020 until at least January 2021, the lawsuit says, CareCube’s website explicitly stated that costs for the company’s virus tests would be covered by most health insurers. After that, the lawsuit says, the company’s website continued to note that insurers were obligated to cover the cost of virus tests with no cost to the patient, implying that insured customers would not be charged.
CareCube, according to the lawsuit, charged its customers for consultations with doctors that it claimed were part of its virus testing process, but didn’t actually provide.
The lawsuit states that in some cases, customers were told by their insurance companies that CareCube had already paid them for a test. However, they were still billed.
“Carecube adamantly denies the allegations in this complaint and will defend this action vigorously in court,” the company said in an email.
CareCube has sent surprise bills to dozens of customers since last year. New Yorkers reported to outlets like The City and New York Magazine they were charged more $100 after being tested at CareCube. Many took to Reddit and The Better Business Bureau to warn others not to go there.
New York Magazine heard from former CareCube employees who claimed that the company used complicated loopholes in order to charge both customers and their insurers for tests.
In March 2020, federal laws required that insurance companies cover all virus tests. This includes tests performed outside of network. Patients across the country have reported unexpected bills for virus testing that range from a few dollars up to thousands of dollars.
Ms. Cunningham said that she and her partner were worried that CareCube’s billing practices would especially hurt low-income New Yorkers who cannot afford to pay hundreds of dollars to get tested.
“I hope that by standing up to CareCube, all of their other customers who got scammed to pay hundreds of dollars for fake doctor consultations for Covid tests get their money back,” she said.
Susan Campbell BeachyContributed research
Source: NY Times