Wednesday, October 3, 2007

How to Save Money on Bloodwork


With the upcoming election, the issue of health care is constantly making headlines. It is a problem, there is no doubt about that. Corporations are starting to charge employees more if they are overweight, smoke or have other health issues. It is a topic that has been buzzing around for a while now and was finally explained well in a recent Tribune Article. For those with limited or no insurance coverage, a little creativity is in order...

For several years, I have needed to monitor what is covered (or should I say not covered) by my health insurance. It has forced me to ask more questions about what kinds of tests, bloodwork, screenings are done and why. The result has been positive in that I've become a lot more educated about my own health, as well as that of the rest of my family.

About a year ago, my husband mentioned an article about how the Internet has opened the door to direct access to laboratories. When I had an upcoming exam, I researched whether this was an option for me but unfortunately, there weren't any local labs participating. When it came time for DH to have some bloodwork done, I checked again and was thrilled to see that there was now a lab to do this at. From what I understand, by providing a payment up-front, the labs are willing to offer a deeply discounted price. When we lived in Los Angeles, doctor's offices often offered a deep discount, as well. I guess labs and doctor's offices don't like dealing with insurance companies any more than the rest of us do!

So how does it work? Log on to any number of the direct access websites such as
Direct Laboratory Services (my personal favorite), HealthCheckUSA or LabSafe. Browse the different tests available to find the one appropriate for your needs, then purchase the labwork online. Like I said, you become more aware of your own health situation because it creates a dialogue with the doctor to determine what test(s) you'll need. Since every lab names their panels differently, you actually have to ask WHAT you'll need, specifically. As an example, it's not just a test for thyroid, it's one or any combination of the following: T-3 Uptake, T4, T7, TSH, Free T3, T4-Free and Reverse T3. Eventually, you learn why the doctor is checking one and not another and what the purpose of each is.

After you order you labwork online, you go to their designated laboratory like you normally would. When you're done, the test results are sent directly to the doctor of your choice, just as would happen if you went through the normal route for bloodwork.

In the end, not only do you pay less, but you become a more informed patient!

3 comments:

  • Anonymous

    Hi,

    You are actually a little wrong, so I just wanted to clarify. When you pay this company (i.e. HealthCheckUSA), they are acting as the middle man, instead of your insurance company. You pay them a fee, and then they pay labcorp what they charged them, and the company (which is independent from the labs) keeps the difference. The lab has nothing to do with offering discounts to you directly. Also, Dr's offices do not get discounts. It is your insurance company that does. It is actually referred to as a 'contract rate'. Let's say you go to the lab and have a TSH test done. The lab says.. ok, this test costs $250. But, by accpeting your insurance, they have a contract rate of $100. That means the lab is only allowed to charge you that much. It has absolutely nothing to do with your Dr's office. If you did not have insurance, you would get charged the higher rate.

  • Nicole

    Anonymous -

    Thanks for your comment. What I was trying to explain (not so well, I guess) is that by utilizing one of the online discount agencies (and taking advantage of their contracted discounts), you can save money on bloodwork. I don't have health insurance, so it's a huge savings for me to utilize one of these companies. It's also helpful to know what blood tests are necessary so you're not paying for something you don't need. When people have insurance and don't need to pay for their blood tests, it doesn't matter - but when you have to pay for it out of pocket, it's a very big deal.

    As for the office discounts, my physicians in LA did offer minimum 10% discount for paying "cash" instead of insurance. Once again, when you don't have insurance and that's your only option, every penny counts. Here in Iowa, seems that physicians are less likely to offer that cash (non-insurance) discount.

    Thanks again for the comment and helping me clarify. Hope you continue to read my blog!

  • Imjustagirl

    I know this was posted a while back but here is a perfect example insurance doesn't cover my testing so I called quest diagnostic cash pay price was $958 so I call Any Time Labs and the same test was $243. That is a BIG BIG difference!!

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