CHICAGO (CBS) — As more and more vaccinated Americans take to the skies for travel, another COVID-19 hurdle is taking shape.
Quick turnaround testing and the high prices that come with it.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Storms Headed Our Way After Midnight; Damaging Winds And Heavy Rain Possible
CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reports from O’Hare that some countries require quick results that can leave you paying almost as much for your test as your plane ticket.
The rush fees or same-day PCR tests prices are no joke.
Right now there is no federal regulation on those prices, leaving some travelers to ask if there should be.
Molly Sheehan’s long distance relationship took on a whole new meaning during the pandemic.
“People are like, oh, why aren’t you sleeping? Oh, I don’t know, a few things on my mind,” Sheehan said.
The Chicago native has traveling back and forth to Ireland to see her fiancé who lives in Dublin.
Like many European countries, the Emerald Isle doesn’t make it easy. She has to provide a negative result of a PCR test taken within 72 hours at the airport.
Not a rapid test, but a quick turnaround and more reliable PCR test. And those are harder to come by.
And the price?
“They were like it’s $375 dollars. And I thought that must be a joke. And it sure wasn’t,” Sheehan said.
CBS 2 could only find a handful of places that guarantee quick turnarounds. Sheehan tried a spot near Halsted and Division.
It was $375 for a same day PCR test.READ MORE: Years After Promise Of $100,000 From State And Photo-Op Prop Check, AMVETS Post 14 In Clinton, Illinois Has Not Seen A Dime
And they caution: they don’t work with any insurance providers.
Another spot in Oak Lawn advertises a “$200 expedited charge.” And Sheehan said she paid another $250 dollars for a rush test in Palos Heights.
CBS 2 discovered that prices aren’t regulated and the wide range is perfectly legal.
“People are kind of at the mercy of these vendors to be able to give get the results quickly and with like right the accurate information that they need.”
Nisha Kurani with the Kaiser Family Foundation has studied test pricing across the country.
“We found that the price of a covert diagnostic test range from between $20 to $1,400 dollars,” Kurani said.
And it’s unclear exactly why.
Although some bills include added fees like “office visit” or “specimen collection.”
CBS 2 asked several Chicago area testing centers to explain their rush fees and why they’re so high. So far, only one provider responded saying that they try to bill through insurance whenever possible.
“A cost can be really prohibitive and it can be really expensive,” observed Kurani.
Sheehan hopes that as travel becomes more common, price caps might be put in place.
“I would think that they would have some sort of ceiling on it that can be enforced,” Sheehan said.MORE NEWS: Some Residents Say A Bears Move To Arlington Heights Would Benefit Community, Others Say It Would Bring Unwelcome Traffic And Crowds
The Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly half of test charges were priced between $100 – $199, and one in five were priced above $300.