After Elizabeth Moreno had back surgery in late 2015, her surgeon prescribed an opioid painkiller and a follow-up drug test that seemed routine -- until the lab slapped her with a bill for $17,850.
A Houston lab had tested her urine sample for a constellation of legal and illicit drugs, many of which, Moreno said, she had never heard of, let alone taken.
"I was totally confused. I didn't know how I was going to pay this," said Moreno, 30, who is finishing a degree in education at Texas State University in San Marcos and is pregnant with twins.
Her bill shows that Sunset Labs LLC charged $4,675 to check her urine for a slew of different types of opioids: $2,975 for benzodiazepines, a class of drugs for treating anxiety, and $1,700 more for amphetamines. Tests to detect cocaine, marijuana and phencyclidine, an illegal hallucinogenic drug also known as PCP or angel dust, added $1,275 more.
The lab also billed $850 to test for buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opioid addiction, and tacked on an $850 fee for two tests to verify that nobody had tampered with her urine specimen.
Total bill: $17,850 for lab tests that her insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, refused to cover, apparently because the lab was not in her insurance network. The insurer sent Moreno an "explanation of benefits" that says it would have valued the work at just $100.92.
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