Are the cost of all labs created equal?

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Patients think that the cost of all labs are created equal; that statement couldn’t be further from the truth.  The labs that your health care provider orders can cost less that you think, you just need to be in the know.  Let me give you an example; I recently had a patient in my office that we are following for female and male hormone levels, Thyroid panel, AM Cortisol and a complete metabolic panel.  This patient went to the lab that was most convenient to her, the local community hospital.  She was shocked to find that her bill came to $1,800.00!  This is like paying your mortgage!!  Instead, when we told her that the cost of getting drawn through an independent laboratory through our office would have only cost her less than $250! For the same lab tests!!  Many patients are simply unaware that lab costs are not equal, it depends on a few factors that are worth checking out:

 

 

  1. Find out if the doctor is in your insurance network; if they are in network, then the labs are covered BUT ARE STILL SUBJECT TO YOUR DEDUCTIBLE!!  Many times patients are told by their insurance company that their labs are covered, but they are paying the hospital rate or the HIGHEST RATE for those labs until their deductible is met; this is not transparency in medicine.
  2. If the doctor is not in your insurance network, then ask if there is a percentage of the cost that is covered vs paying completely out of pocket.  Again, your total bill will still be contingent upon whether or not you have met your deductible or not; you may still be stuck paying the hospital rate or the HIGHEST RATE for those labs if your deductible is not met.
  3. If the doctor is not in your insurance network and your labs will not be covered, then DO NOT GO TO A HOSPITAL OR HOSPITAL BASED CLINIC to get your labs done because they send the labs to the hospital to be run and you are still paying the hospital rate or the HIGHEST RATE for those labs.  Instead, find out the closest independent laboratory draw station in your location and get drawn there.  Some examples of independent labs:
  1. Quest laboratories – this is a national laboratory and their prices are considerably lower than a hospital lab, and you can inquire ahead of time as to the cost so you have no surprises.  Go to their website, www.questdiagnostics.com to find out about draw stations close to you.
  2. Access Medical – this is a national laboratory that again has prices that are considerably lower than a hospital lab, go to their website, www.accessmedicalsupply.com to find out about draw stations close to you.
  3. Lab Corp – this is a national laboratory that again has prices that are considerably lower than a hospital lab; go their website, www.labcorp.com to find out about draw stations close to you.

Remember, if you are seeing a healthcare provider that is employed by a system, then they are naturally going to send you for labs that are done THROUGH THEIR SYSTEM; it may not be your most cost effective option, especially if your deductible has not been met.

 

Dr. Victoria J. Mondloch

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