CHICAGO (CBS) — The latest news about health care reveals that just over half of Americans have put off some sort of care because of the cost.
There are ways to cut costs without risking your health. CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker takes a look at the latest order-your-own blood tests that get results without breaking the bank.
Peter Mango recently learned he has high cholesterol. To control it, he needs to monitor it. But instead of going to a doctor, Mango ordered his own blood test online.
He signed up at directlabs.com. It meant he didn’t have to visit a doctor for the test, something he was trying to avoid because he pays $5,000 before his insurance picks up the tab.
“I remember thinking that the cost for a test that I got would probably be in the $500 to $800 range,” he says. “Having it done for $29.95 was a huge benefit.”
There are a number of ways to save money on medical tests. Tucker also signed up at directlabs for a cholesterol test. She was sent to a lab in downtown Chicago where they drew blood, and she got the results the next day. Cost: $29.
There’s also a do it yourself kit. Tucker ordered it from bloodtestathome.com. It took a week for the kit to arrive from a lab in Buffalo Grove, and it took two weeks to get the results. Cost: $26.
Getting a cholesterol test at the CVS “minute clinic” was the fastest. Tucker got her results the same day. The cost was $89.
Still, the alternatives are cheaper than a doctor’s visit, which can easily cost you $150. Plus, you could pay $90 or more for the cholesterol test.
People can also order tests for many other issues, including diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases, hormones and vitamin levels. But doctors say once you get your results, it’s time for an office visit.
“They bring them to me and then we kind of go over them together and really look at them in the context of their own health, their own risk factors,” says Jennifer Earvolino of Rush University Medical Center.
Mango eventually took his results to his doctor, who put him on medication, but he’ll continue to monitor his cholesterol on his own.
“The balance of between taking care of your health and weighing the impact of that on families’ finances is huge in this economy,” he said.
Doctors we spoke with say being able to order your own tests is an important tool for patients. But, to ensure accuracy, make sure the online company sends your test to a lab that’s accredited by an organization like the College of American Pathologists.
Even though the online companies will alert you if your results are abnormal, it’s best to share your tests results on a regular basis with your physician.