Overcharged by Quest Diagnostics — can she get her $353 back?

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By Christopher Elliott

Quest Diagnostics charged Ro Dobkin an extra $353 for services. Can she get it back or is it lost forever?

Question

I received two bills from Quest Diagnostics for tests that my insurance denied. I paid the bills myself, not knowing that my doctors had already recoded them and resubmitted them to Medicare. Quest used my payments and applied them to all services provided even though Medicare already covered them. 

Quest is also sending me a bill for services performed last spring, which Medicare denied. My bill clearly states, “You should not be billed for this service.” 

I opened four separate cases but can’t get an answer on the status of my claims. Quest Diagnostics should reimburse me a total of $353 for the two bills I paid. Quest also needs to rescind a bill for $254. I have spent numerous hours on the phone with Quest and emailed them to no avail. Can you help? — Ro Dobkin, Hanover, N.J.

Answer

What a mess! It looks like you had a colossal misunderstanding between you, your doctor and Quest Diagnostics. The net result was that Quest overbilled you by $353.

How hard is it for something like this to happen? Not hard at all. I had to get a blood test at a Quest Diagnostics location recently, and I experienced similar chaos. I thought my insurance company would cover the test, but Quest wanted up-front payment. In the end, I gave an employee the correct insurance information, but the company billed me anyway.

This shouldn’t happen. We need a system that ensures people like you don’t have to worry about paying for essential medical services. In the last year, I have personally experienced healthcare in South Africa, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates — and I can tell you there’s definitely a better way than how we’re doing it. 

You should be able to show your card and get the treatment you need without having to worry about bills or doctors recoding your tests. (Related: Quest has sent my bill to collections — but I don’t owe anything!)

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But how do you get a Quest Diagnostics billing error fixed? You can go through the usual channels, asking it to address your problem. And I can see you did that without much success. I also publish the names, numbers and email addresses of the Quest Diagnostics executives on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. A brief, polite email to one of them might have fixed this. You can also try the Elliott Method to fix your problem. (Here’s how to fix your own consumer problems.)

I contacted Quest Diagnostics on your behalf. A representative responded to you, apologizing for the “challenges in attempting to receive your refund and the frustration this caused.” Quest Diagnostics refunded the $353 as you had requested and adjusted your bill.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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