NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A New York City health care clinic is being investigated for allegedly charging people for COVID-19 tests that are supposed to be free.

“I was told I need to pay on the spot $250 in total for both rapid tests,” Ronnie Almonte said.

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Almonte told CBS2’s Cory James he was shocked that a trip with his partner to Carecube in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, for COVID-19 tests resulted in a costly fee.

“I was under the impression that it would be free,” Almonte said.

Free because of his health insurance. It’s the same plan he says he had last March when he went to the same facility for the same service and paid nothing.

“There’s an industry that is taking advantage of people,” Almonte said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

He is not the only one feeling that way.

There are numerous complaints on Reddit on a post created a week ago from people saying they were told to pay upfront.

There are also at least seven complaints on the Better Business Bureau’s website involving the clinic.

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One person said Carecube billed their insurance for a $200 office visit and $50 for the COVID test, but adding there was no office visit, only the test.

“It’s a for-profit health care company that saw an opportunity to make money during a pandemic,” Councilman Brad Lander said.

Lander sent a letter to the New York Attorney General’s office calling on an investigation after he says his office got dozens of calls from people alleging “deceptive and fraudulent practices of Carecube.”

“What Carecube is doing that’s different from any other place we’ve seen is adding in just made-up other charges, generally as though you had, like, gotten some kind of physical or assessment in addition to your test,” Lander said.

COVID VACCINE

After going to Carecube on Tuesday to get answers, CBS2 was referred to an attorney who sent us a statement that reads in part: “In any instance where providers do not receive payment from insurance, financial responsibility is redistributed to patients, the patient then has the option to pay independently or dispute with their insurance…”

Carecube denies the allegations.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General’s office is investigating the claims concerning the clinic.

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City officials are encouraging anyone in need of a free COVID test to go to the city’s testing sites.

Cory James