COVID-19 relief legislation that lets providers in some cases set their own prices on COVID tests has resulted in charges as high as $14,750, a new study finds.

Providers billed insurers $144 on average for COVID diagnostic tests, with the prices ranging from one penny all the way up to $14,750, according to a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, which drew on about 182,000 claims for tests provided by independent laboratories and outpatient hospital settings. For comparison, Medicare’s rate is $51.

After reading articles about sky-high bills for COVID tests, Ge Bai, an author of the study and associate professor of accounting and health policy and management at Johns Hopkins University, said she was skeptical and wanted to check for herself.

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