Lab tests are one of the most important tools used by the medical community when it comes to evaluating someone’s health. These tests can help to diagnose a specific infection, identify why someone is having some type of symptoms, or just give information that can be used to make important lifestyle decisions. In many cases, having your primary doctor run these tests is going to cost hundreds, or even thousands of dollars. Using private labs is a great way to save a lot of money, get the tests done more quickly, and have the information delivered right to you.
If you are thinking about taking any type of health tests, you likely have some questions. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions we hear, and their answers.
The specific tests that are available will vary depending on which company you work with. Some of these testing companies only offer at-home testing kits, of which there are usually between 30 and 50 different options. These kits will typically focus on STD/STI testing, which includes Herpes 1 & 2, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, hepatitis A, B & C, trichomonas, and HIV.
When going to a lab to have the testing completed there are hundreds of different options available. You will typically be able to find tests in categories such as allergy tests, anemia tests, blood type testing, cancer screening, cardiac & cholesterol testing, diabetes tests, drug testing, heavy metal and other toxins testing, hormone tests, prostate testing, pregnancy or fertility testing, kidney and liver testing, and many others. Taking the time to look through which tests a given company offers is an important first step in deciding which one is right for you.
How are the Tests Performed?
Whether you are taking the tests at home or in a lab the method that they will be performed is going to be the same. Each test will require a sample, which is then analyzed by the lab technicians. Based on that analysis, they will issue a report on the results. The following are the different types of samples that may be needed depending on what tests you are having performed:
Once the lab has the samples to test the results are typically available within 24-48 hours. If you are taking an at-home test it will usually take 2-3 days for the samples to arrive at the lab.
Most of the testing companies either have doctor’s on staff who can prescribe you medications, or work with a network of doctors in each state. Either way, the services will let you know what type of medication you need to take to start treating the infection.
Absolutely. All the tests are completely safe. For at-home tests, the collection tools sent will be sterile and easy to use.
No. These tests do not require any type of doctor’s approval. If you are going to the lab to have the samples collected, you will get a doctor’s request from the company, but that is just to tell the lab which tests to run.
The specimens needed for testing are what the technicians at the lab analyze. Each test requires a specific type of specimen in order to get the needed results. These types of tests will require either a blood sample, urine sample, stool sample, or a vaginal swipe sample. The web page for each test will say what type of sample is needed before you have to order it.
The cost of each test can vary drastically. This is based on several factors including how much work it is to process by the lab, how much the testing materials will cost, and much more. An individual test will typically cost anywhere from $30 up to $600. Most tests are under $100, and most STD/STI tests are under $50. The exact price is set by the testing company.
The best way to reduce the average cost of each test is going to be to purchase one of the bundles that each testing company offers. These bundles allow you to have multiple related tests performed for one lower price. In most cases it is possible to have 5-10 different STD/STI tests run from a single sample. Rather than paying $30-$50 for each one, taking them, all together costs between $99 and $150 in most cases.
These companies do not accept insurance coverage to pay for the tests.
Yes. You can use your HSA (Health Savings Account) or FSA (Flex Spending Account) to pay for these tests. This is a convenient way to make a payment and allow you to enjoy the tax savings.
Once you place an order for an at-home testing kit, it will usually arrive at your home within 24-48 hours. Where you live in comparison to where the company’s warehouse is located can also have some impact on how long it takes.
The companies we review on this site serve people throughout the United States. Some of the providers do not offer their services in New York, New Jersey, or Rhode Island because of local laws restricting who can request a test.