Greenpointers has received several tips from readers who say that they are getting billed for a COVID test that they initially believed to be free.

Altru Chemists (987 Manhattan Ave.) partnered with MedBar, a mobile healthcare provider, to provide free testing in late 2020 and early 2021, though they were dissatisfied with the service and ended the partnership in March 2021. Over a year later, some customers noticed an extra charge on their bills. Many folks have said that Medbar was unresponsive to their inquiries about the charges.

Below is a full statement from Altru Chemists:

Some of our customers received an email earlier this month from MedBar regarding a possible “outstanding balance” due for COVID-19 testing services that were performed at our facility between the Fall of 2020 and Spring of 2021.

While we can’t provide full details due to ongoing legal inquiries between us and Med Bar, we want to provide some facts to help you and our community navigate how best to address these MedBar inquiries:

Altru Chemists terminated our partnership with MedBar early in March 2021. We didn’t like how Medbar operated and provided customer care to our patients. Since then, we have performed PCR testing at no cost with no hidden disclosures or balance billing to our patients.

Please let your readers know that they should not feel discouraged from using our pharmacy for future COVID-19 testing needs.

Altru Chemists’ sole responsibility during our work relationship with MedBar was to perform swab collection. We were not and are not responsible for any billing or money recoupment. While we empathize with the patients and understand this may have come as an unforeseen surprise, it is not something we have control over. Patients can reach out to MedBar or their insurance with billing inquiries. If they have any questions for us here at the pharmacy, they can call us or visit us.

Customers around the city have shared similar experiences on Google Reviews. Some have contacted the state Attorney General’s office, as they were billed before they could even get in contact with MedBar to dispute the charges.

A screen shot of Google reviews

MedBar did not return Greenpointers’ multiple requests for comment.

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  1. Sad to hear this. I received all three of my covid shots there and they were very professional, quick and available and free.

    Moral of story, check, re check, double check, get proof before you consent to anything if case of a problem.

    1. The moral of the story is that there are scammers out there and sometimes there is nothing you can do to avoid being scammed. Medbar was paid by the city and insurance companies for administering the tests, they are simply going after consumers for more money by billing for a “doctor’s visit” that did not occur.

  2. I’m glad this is being reported – I just got balance-billed by Medbar for a massive pile of money after having covid testing done at Altru. Reaching out to Medbar, I didn’t receive a response for weeks, and when one did come, it was very nasty/aggressive. I’d recommend anyone else affected by this to submit a form with the New York State Attorney General’s office – once you google “nys ag” and navigate to the consumer reporting flow, it takes about 2-3 minutes to fill out. Reporting to the NYS AG can be done not only if something is outright fraud, but also if it’s misleading – I think profiteering off standard PCR tests at a time when virtually all other providers offer them for free (through bills that were passed, insurance, etc) is about as misleading as it gets. For reference, I had my PCR test done with an eye-wateringly expensive Aetna plan that’s in-network everywhere for everything – and Medbar was like “nah we’re out of network, pound sand”

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