SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio Metro Health has begun private coronavirus testing in San Antonio. The tests typically take two days to return results and can cost thousands of dollars for uninsured patients.
Metro Health director Junda Woo spoke in Bexar County Commissioners Court Tuesday, explaining the testing procedure within the county. According to Woo, tests can cost up to $2,400 without insurance.
Those who pay a 20% co-pay will be charged $480.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Tommy Calvert said it's not right for patients to be charged so much money. He said some people may have to go without because they can't afford the test.
"That's just unconscionable to me at a moment of a public health crisis," Calvert said.
Tuesday, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott asked health insurance providers to waive costs associated with coronavirus. Those costs included testing and telemedicine visits related to diagnosing patients with COVID-19.
"We must ensure no Texan is denied access to testing resources relating to coronavirus," Abbott said. "Texans who are concerned that they may have coronavirus should seek medical attention in the most appropriate setting, and telemedicine is a good first medical encounter for anyone experiencing mild symptoms.
"Consulting a physician from home is a practical way to avoid getting sick, prevent the spread of the virus, and help ensure that emergency rooms are available for those who truly need them. We appreciate the collaboration of health insurers operating in Texas to enhance our state's proactive approach to addressing any potential outbreaks of COVID-19.
"The State of Texas is unwavering in our commitment to protecting the health and safety of all Texans."
Abbott also said he had been assured that no one who is not a Texan will be released to a local health facility so that Texans who may have contracted the coronavirus will have access to the necessary care.
Yesterday, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the CDC has sent 75 test kits to San Antonio. For a city of this size, he requested they send more as soon as possible. Metro Health officials said we should have about 500 test kits by the end of the week.
Metro Health recommends people only get tested once they've been able to rule out common illnesses like the flu. Officials also stressed the importance of washing hands constantly, avoiding touching daces, and staying three to six feet away from people who are sick.