Class Action Alleges Customers Received Surprise Bills for Natera Genetic Tests
by Erin Shaak
Copley v. Natera, Inc.
Filed: November 18, 2021 ◆§ 4:21-cv-08941
Natera faces a class action that claims it has misrepresented the costs of its tests and hit thousands of patients with unexpected, “extremely high” bills.
Natera, Inc. faces a proposed class action that claims the genetic testing company has misrepresented the costs of its tests and hit thousands of patients with unexpected, “extremely high” bills.
The case says that although Natera represents that its Panorama, Horizon, Vistara and Spectrum tests will cost no more than $249, many patients have received bills exceeding thousands of dollars, leaving them “shocked, angry, and stressed” because they were unaware that the company’s services were priced so high.
Moreover, although Natera represents that it will provide insurance estimates and contact patients to determine how they want to pay in the event their costs are estimated to exceed the company’s cash price, the defendant does neither, and instead “surprises patients with huge bills,” the suit claims.
The lawsuit contends that had Natera been clear and transparent with regard to its pricing and billing practices, many parents and parents-to-be would not have chosen the company to perform genetic testing not considered to be life-saving.
Per the complaint, Natera markets its genetic tests, including carrier screening tests and pre-natal genetic tests, to women who are trying to conceive and pregnant women who are concerned about the health of their children. According to the case, the defendant touts on its website its purported commitment to “price transparency,” and represents that it will provide “affordable testing” and “clear cost estimates” for patients.
Despite these representations, however, Natera does not disclose anywhere on its website the actual cost of its genetic tests, including the “astounding” $8,000 price tag of its Panorama test, the suit says. Moreover, patients are not informed that many insurance plans do not cover the costs of the tests given genetic tests are a relatively new area of medical science, the lawsuit relays. Instead, the defendant, according to the complaint, represents in marketing materials that most patients will pay no more than $249 without warning them that their costs could well exceed that price point.
Natera further claims its price transparency program includes providing insurance estimates, and the company informs prospective patients that if their cost is estimated to exceed the test’s cash price, Natera will contact them to inquire whether they will pay through insurance or cash, the suit relays. In practice, however, Natera allegedly does not follow these steps and will instead bill a patient’s insurance without giving them any choice as to how to pay or any expectation on what the final cost will be.
The lawsuit claims Natera’s representations provide patients with “a false sense of comfort” that their out-of-pocket expenses will not exceed more than a few hundred dollars when this is far from the truth for many customers. The filing adds that patients who attempt to get in touch with Natera after receiving an exorbitant bill often allegedly find that the company is hard to get in touch with, and many “give up after trying to call or email Natera a few times,” and end up paying the bills.
The plaintiff, who agreed to undergo Natera’s Panorama test after being assured it would not cost more than “a couple hundred dollars,” says she and her husband were shocked to discover an $8,000 charge from Natera on their explanation of benefits statement. According to the case, Natera then represented to the plaintiff’s husband over the phone that it would accept an immediate payment of $249 and waive the rest of the charges. The lawsuit says the plaintiff’s husband agreed to pay the $249 over the phone with “no other option in sight” and requested a receipt of payment. Instead, Natera allegedly mailed the plaintiff a $721.20 bill, followed by another $721.10 bill the next month and a third bill for $671.10 after the plaintiff’s husband was pressured to make one $50 payment “under protest.”
The plaintiff looks to represent anyone in the U.S. who had a Panorama, Horizon, Vistara or Spectrum test performed by Natera and was billed more than $249 for the test.
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