Getting Blood Tests at a Reasonable Prices

Most blood test providers have exorbitant list prices. These prices are deeply discounted (as much as 80%) for Medicare and various insurance companies. This post will tell you how to get those deep discounts for yourself. blood-test-70-discount

We discussed tests that were not covered by insurance in a prior post. This was only applicable to Medicare, but the info on getting a non-covered test, without getting robbed, applies to all.

First though, bear in mind that other than annual physicals, insurance won’t pay an iota for prevention. Every single test a doctor prescribes has to be triggered by a symptom. And the doctor has to justify it. After he packs you off to the blood draw center, he gets a notice, either by the insurance company, or sometimes by the blood draw center itself, asking him why the test was prescribed? What was the symptom? Now “just making sure the guy isn’t sick” or “looking for early warning signs” are not any of the acceptable responses. So this puts the doctor in the odd position of having to sort of fish for symptoms. Low energy could justify a thyroid test. Weight gain could be used for glucose. The insurance companies even dictate treatments.

Why Would Anyone Want A Blood Test?

You might wonder why you want a test that insurance doesn’t cover. There could be many reasons. First of all, blood tests are an excellent way to do preventive medicine. Specifically tailored preventive medicine.

Suppose you are gaining weight year after year in spite of concerted efforts to combat it. You have tried diets, fasting, everything. Some things work at first, but at the end of the day, or year, those pounds are back and then some.

A possible cause, indeed the likeliest cause, is excess starch and sugar. But how much is excess. This varies greatly from person to person, but the ability to metabolize glucose (how your body sees and uses sugar and starch) tends to decline with age. However, anyone’s ability can be easily determined with a blood test. A fairly simple one. The measurements needed are fasting glucose, A1C (average glucose), and insulin. Triglycerides would also be useful.

Exactly what these numbers mean is covered here. However, this post doesn’t tell you what to do with your individual numbers. That will be covered soon.

So anyone might be concerned about creeping weight gain and not have any symptoms, at least what the insurance companies think of as symptoms., Insurance companies mean symptoms of actual disease, not early warning signs. Perhaps you don’t have disease yet, but you sense that something has changed, and you want to head it off before it becomes disease. This is, of course, preventive medicine, and is, for reasons unknown, of no interest to insurance companies.

So they won’t pay. Now your doc could fake it, and pretend he is looking for something serious and write you a requisition that could go to the insurance, but this is a bad idea for three reasons: 1) it can get your doc into trouble, 2) the insurance might pay once, but likely won’t pay three months later, and 3) the tests can be cheap.

Let’s suppose then that you decide to pay for the above four tests. If insurance is out of the loop, your doc will probably be quite willing to write you a requisition for a blood draw, and if he won’t, insist on a thorough explanation for that. You don’t really need the doctor’s requisition, but you have a few more options if you do. Now then, the list price for those fours tests is absurd. Probably around $350.

However, you can get them for something between $21 and $59. And we are about to explain how.

Control The Testing Price

With one major exception the “list” price for blood tests is absurdly high. There are two effective ways to deal with the test costs, both reasonably economical.

Method 1: Explore your inner Persian carpet merchant. Walk in, say: “no insurance, what’s the cash price.” You don’t need real cash, you can still pay with a credit card. They will likely quote you a pretty good price, but they may quote list price. Insist on the cash discount. They all have one, but some of them make you ask for it. Do your homework and see how much you would have to pay using Methods 2 and 3 below. If their discounted price isn’t better, tell them to contact the mother ship and get a lower price, the Medicare price, or the Medicaid price. Some lower price. Wheedle and whine. This nearly always works. The staff in the draw center is usually sympathetic. Even discounted, the blood draw people are still making plenty of money, so have no mercy.


Method 2. Get your own tests. This is easy, legal, safe, and completely identical to the tests your doctor would request. If you have any misgivings, discuss them with your doctor. You can find on the web “retail outlets” for two major nationwide blood draw centers: LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics. There are dozens of such outfits. They will take your money on-line, email you a prescription signed by some mysterious doctor, and instruct you to proceed to the nearest Quest or LabCorp blood draw center. From that point on, it is no different from walking in with your doctor’s prescription, except no more cash changes hands. They will take your blood, do the analysis, which will be exactly and completely the same as the one that would have been ordered by your doctor. In a couple of days, the results will be emailed back to you and only you. These can then be forwarded to your doctor.

Many types of insurance will have a deductible, where you pay 100% until the deductible is reached,. Now the cost is relatively well contained here, because the insurance company has negotiated a low rate, and usually a good one. But again—buyer beware. You may be better off paying cash. The price may be lower still. You can inquire on the spot at the blood draw center. Just tell them that you don’t think you will hit your deductible, so could you also have the cash price. Of course, if you pay cash, you don’t use up your deductible, so you will have to take a guess as to which would be best for your case. Medicare has no co-pay or deductible.

About Panels

The blood test companies love batch testing. Their machines are set up for it. For instance, the “comprehensive metabolic” panel, costing between $10 and $30, includes glucose, creatinine, AST, and ALT, four of our 15 key. Likewise, a lipid panel, costing about the same, will provide triglycerides and HDL. Panels often represent a significant savings.

  3 comments for “Getting Blood Tests at a Reasonable Prices

  1. linda
    September 22, 2015 at 6:38 am

    In NJ no one will do test without a doctors script. I have searched the internet and have not found any sites that will send you a “doctors” script for the testing.
    Labcorp has a walk in , but not in NJ. state regulations will not allow it.

  2. Dixie boatman
    October 7, 2016 at 8:35 am

    I couldn’t find the tests at the prices you quote in the book and I faxed copies in to both walk in lab and quest. All quotes in $500 range.

  3. Jane
    August 1, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    On the Quest website: “Because of regulations in every state except Arizona, patients must have their doctor request lab tests. To get tested, you’ll need to contact your doctor and find out your options for getting a lab order through him or her.”

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