- Order your own online lab tests Buy lab tests online Visit a local patient service center Download your test results Get Started NOW!
- How To Order Your Own Blood Tests
- How Often Should You Get Your Blood Tested?
- Which Blood Tests Should You Get?
- How To Read Your Blood Test Results
- Private Blood Tests
- 5 Simple Steps to Ordering Your Own Lab Tests Online
- 1. Choose an Online Lab
- 2. Pick the Tests You Want
- 3. Choose a Physical Lab to Have Blood or Other Samples Taken
- 4. Go to the Lab to Have Your Samples Taken
- 5. Get Your Results and an Expert’s Interpretation
- DIY Blood Tests? There’s A Downside To Ordering Your Own
Order your own online lab tests
Buy lab tests online
Visit a local patient service center
Download your test results
Get Started NOW!
Download your test results
Comprehensive Health Profile
A broad-based screening test for Everyone.
The Comprehensive Health Profile has been our most ordered online blood lab test for 36 years. The blood test screens for cardiovascular risk, major organ function, anemia, glucose (blood sugar), infection, blood disease, and other indications of illness. This type of blood testing is routinely ordered as part of an annual physical exam.
The Comprehensive Health Profile consists of the 3 standard panels:
- Lipid Panel
- Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
- Complete Blood Count w/ diff/platlets
Preparation: fast 10 hours prior to this test, unless you are diabetic or pregnant. Fasting means abstaining from food and any non-water drinks. Do drink plenty of water while fasting and continue with any prescribed medications.
Please be advised, that our services are strictly self pay and are not eligible for submission as a claim to your health insurance provider. However, you can submit the receipt for reimbursement to many Flexible Spending and Health Savings Accounts for reimbursement.
For a complete breakout of the 40+ tests that make up this discount lab test, please click the Additional Details tab.
Sample of Comprehensive Health Profile test
Results report in 1 to 2 days.
Order Now for $59
Our website provides an extensive list of testing options including comprehensive discounted packages. Orders can be placed with Request A Test online or over the phone with one of our representatives by calling 1-888-732-2348. All personal information including your order history is kept private and confidential.
Once you have selected your tests and lab location, Request A Test completes your order by processing your payment using one of our various payment options. Upon successful completion of payment, Request A Test will provide our clients with their doctor’s order confirmation and information for their lab collection.
- Clients who order over the phone will receive the doctor’s order confirmation along with any relevant information before the completion of their call. Confirmation will also be sent by email.
- Clients who order online during business hours will typically receive an order confirmation by email 10-15 minutes after finalizing their order. If you do not receive an order confirmation in a timely manner, contact Request A Test for assistance.
- Orders placed online after business hours will typically receive their confirmation at the start of the following business day.
Sometimes, the only way to know if your diet is working for you or not is to get a blood test. You can assume that you are healthy, or that you are getting all of your nutrients, or that the diet you are on works for you, but assumptions and reality are two very different things.
That’s why I recently had my blood tested. I had been putting it if off for a while because I’m terrified of needles, but I finally worked up the courage to go to a lab, have my arm poked, and my blood analyzed.
You do not need a doctor to order blood tests for you. Several Internet companies offer routine blood tests that you can order yourself. Most routine blood tests are quite affordable too, so chances are that you can afford them even if you do not have health insurance.
Even if you have health insurance, you can still save a TON by ordering your own blood tests versus going through your doctor’s referral. This is especially true if you are on a high-deductible plan.
How To Order Your Own Blood Tests
The process for ordering your own blood tests is extremely simple. I went to the Health One Labs website, picked the tests I wanted and paid for them with my credit card.
During the ordering process, I was prompted to select a “patient service center” that was closest to me. Within two hours, I was e-mailed a lab requisition form. I printed it out (it was already filled out with my information and the blood test to be ordered) and showed up at the patient service center the next morning (no appointment necessary).
I handed the receptionist my requisition form. She had me take a seat for about 2 minutes, then I was ushered into a small room where a vial of my blood was drawn by a friendly lab tech. That was it. I was in and out of there in under ten minutes! (Be sure to show up right when the lab opens, otherwise bring some reading material and make yourself comfortable in the waiting room!)
The very next day, I received an e-mail indicating that my lab results were in. I clicked on the link in the e-mail and downloaded a PDF of my results.
Really, the process could not have been any simpler!
How Often Should You Get Your Blood Tested?
For most people, there really isn’t a reason to get your blood drawn unless you are experiencing symptoms of a disease, or feeling run down. Even then, it is best to meet with your doctor before attempting to self-diagnose any medical condition. You always run the risk of paying for tests that you don’t need.
For the purpose of this article, I am recommending blood tests in order to determine how a particular diet or “therapeutic food” affects your body.
For instance, you may have high cholesterol. After doing a 30-day green smoothie challenge, you can then order your own cholesterol test without having to go through the hassle of seeing your doctor, or overpaying for doctor-ordered blood tests.
My personal opinion is that it is a good idea to get your blood periodically tested (perhaps once per year) if you are following a vegan, raw food, or any other restrictive diet. Ideally, you would get your blood work done before you start the diet, then retest about six months into the diet to see how the changes you’ve made to your lifestyle have improved your health.
Annual blood work might be a good idea the longer you stick to any sort of strict dietary regimen.
If you are experiencing unexplained symptoms or suspect that you might have an illness, it is important to work directly with a qualified health care professional. Do not try to self-diagnose using your blood test results. However, taking the initiative to order your own blood tests could save you money (especially if you do not have health insurance) and confirm a general, preliminary diagnosis, and save yourself some steps when you consult your doctor.
In short, if I were to ever feel run down or chronically “not quite right”, or I exhibited deficiency symptoms, I would test my blood immediately. If a blood result were to show deficiency in a certain vitamin, I would modify my diet or supplement, then have it retested a month later. In the absence of symptoms or feelings of ill health, I’ll probably test my blood every 12-18 months.
Which Blood Tests Should You Get?
There are many different lab tests available that you can order through the Health One Labs website. Here are a few that I think have value to check on how your diet and lifestyle are impacting your overall health. You might want to get other blood tests depending on certain health conditions or risk factors you might have. The prices listed are as of this writing and may change at any time.
Comprehensive Health Profile – $59: This test screens for cardiovascular risk, major organ function, anemia, diabetes, infection, blood disease, and other indications of illness. It includes the Complete Blood Count (CBC), lipid panel, liver panel, kidney panel, minerals and bone, fluids and electrolytes as well as a diabetes screen. It’s good base test to check for any indication of abnormalities. It’s not a complete picture of your overall health, but it’s a good snapshot and it’s what is typically ordered during a routine physical.
Ferritin (Iron levels) – $39: This is a good test for vegans and vegetarians to take to ensure adequate iron levels are maintained. Vegan and raw vegan women especially should have this checked routinely to ensure they are getting adequate iron from their diet and/or supplements.
Thyroid Panel – $39: A thyroid panel is a group of tests that are often ordered together to help evaluate thyroid gland function and to help diagnose thyroid disorders. This is a good test for vegans and raw food vegans to take on occasion to ensure proper thyroid function, and to address any deficiency in iodine that might lead to problems with your thyroid. Basically, if you are a vegan, make sure your sea vegetables or supplements are doing what they are supposed to be doing.
Vitamin A and Carotene – $49: This test checks your vitamin A levels. It’s a good test for a long-term or struggling vegan or vegetarian to take to ensure that you are synthesizing vitamin A from beta-carotene efficiently enough to maintain adequate levels to prevent deficiency. It is not impossible for a vegan or even a raw food vegan to be deficient in vitamin A despite consuming foods rich in beta-carotene if your body is not efficient in the conversion process.
Vitamin B12 – $39: This should be a standard test for vegans, vegetarians and even meat eaters to check your B12 levels and ensure that you are getting adequate amounts from your diet or supplements. Perhaps get this test done once to ensure that you have a healthy B12 level, then retest in a year. If the level doesn’t fall, then keep doing what you are doing and retest every few years, or if deficiency symptoms manifest.
Vitamin D, 25 Hydoxy – $49: This test should probably be routine for everybody, whether you are vegan or omnivore. Recent studies suggest that many more people might be vitamin D deficient than previously thought. If you are vegan and/or spend a lot of time indoors out of the sun, then get this test to ensure your diet and/or supplements are supplying what your body needs.
Testosterone, Total and Free – $59: This is an important test for men, especially older men or those who follow strict fruitarian and ultra low fat diets. Symptoms of low testosterone can mimic those of “adrenal fatigue” or “candida”. While vegan and raw food diets don’t necessarily cause low testosterone, there are some risk factors such as insufficient zinc, iron, iodine and selenium, excessive fiber and inadequate fat intake – which could lead to hormone imbalances if you are not paying attention to your nutrient intake, or severely restricting fat and protein.
Be sure to get both total and free testosterone tested together if you feel chronically run down.
Alternatively, women can order a “Female Hormone Panel” if they experience chronic low energy, and stop menstruating.
This is, of course, not an exhaustive list of blood tests. If you are in good health, you probably don’t need a battery of tests to tell you absolutely everything about what is going on inside your body. The ones I mention above are good starting points that will give you a snapshot into your overall health and levels for certain vitamins and minerals if you are testing your blood for the very first time.
Of course, there are some opportunities to get free non-blood tests. For example, I got a free “osteoporosis screening” at Costco last year. My result came back normal. I’m not sure how accurate these screenings are or if they are intended to sell you calcium supplements, but it’s something.
Many drug stores have free, in-store blood pressure screening machines too. Keep your eye out for heart health or diabetes awareness events where you can typically get free screenings at a local clinic.
How To Read Your Blood Test Results
Okay, so you went through the easy process of ordering your blood test and getting your blood drawn. Now you’ve downloaded your lab results and need to make sense of them.
Your lab results will show up in a column next to a column called “Reference Interval”. The reference interval is a range of numbers that indicate what is within normal levels for 95% of the population who is considered healthy. (Take a look at a sample lab result.)
For example, the reference interval for total cholesterol is between 100-199. As long as your result is within this range, it is considered normal, and you can easily compare your numbers with the reference intervals on your blood test results to determine if you are within the normal, healthy range or if you are too high (above 199) or too low (below 100).
Now here is the tricky part about ordering your own blood tests and having the results in your hand. If any of your numbers come back too high or two low, there is no way for you to know what that indicates without discussing it with a physician or researching it on the Internet.
Now a word of caution about researching the meaning of your lab results online – DON’T DO IT!!! Just don’t!
You’ll end up on alarmist websites with bad information and you will freak yourself out. You’ll end up convinced that you are going to die from some horrible disease (go ahead, type in a vague symptom and you’ll find suspected causes ranging from age-related to rare form of cancer).
Even if your numbers are on the low or high end of normal, there are websites and “Internet experts” out there who write alarming articles and blog posts about how “normal isn’t really normal” and that you need this or you need that (usually a supplement or e-book). Much of this is probably bad information.
Trust me, the best thing to do if you have any questions about or abnormal results on your blood test is to discuss it with your doctor and heed their advice regarding further testing or changes you can make to bring your results within normal levels.
Of course, if your vitamin B12 lab result shows low levels, you know what to do. Increase your B12 levels through diet and supplements and have your blood retested to ensure your levels are going back up to normal levels (if your results show deficiency, you may need to see a doctor who can administer a B12 shot or provide recommendations to bring your B12 level back up quickly and safely).
But if your blood counts are off, or other numbers have been flagged as too high or too low, seek the advice of a medical professional and NOT some Internet health expert.
It’s perfectly fine to look up what certain things on your blood test mean so you can understand them. For example, feel free to read up on what triglycerides are or what bilirubin is. If you’re a health nerd like me, you’ll be fascinated.
But let me say it one more time, do not look for answers online for what a low or high result might mean. You’ll just scare yourself, and perhaps needlessly. Or worse, you’ll follow bad advice and make things worse.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to test your blood on a periodic basis if you are new to any strict dietary regimen. The ONLY way to ensure that your diet and lifestyle is optimal for you is not by following a strict diet to the letter, or adhering to health regimens prescribed by gurus, but to test your blood and look at the results based on your diet choices.
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by Jan Manarite, VP of Advocacy & Education
For some people who don’t have medical insurance, or for others who have barriers to getting their bloodwork done, there is a way you can purchase your own blood tests online. The Life Extension Foundation (LEF) website has a section under PRODUCTS, called BLOOD TESTING, where you can order many different types of tests for yourself. You purchase the test online through the website. LEF will then email you your order (script), which you can print and bring it to your local LabCorp location. There is no extra charge at LabCorp.
Most states have many LabCorp locations, but not all. You can search online for a local LabCorp location here.
There are many, many blood tests available on the LEF website – from PSA to CBC/CMP/Lipid Panel, to Vitamin D, and more. The prices vary, but a regular PSA blood test for an LEF is currently $31.00 There is also an Ultrasensitive PSA (for patients after surgery, etc) and a Free/Total PSA (for men with BPH who are screening) which are a little more expensive.
For more information, you can also call Life Extension Foundation at (800) 678-8989.
I have used this system multiple times for myself over the years. There were periods of time during my husband’s cancer care that he had medical insurance, but I did not. We could not afford insurance for me. So this service was very helpful to me for my own screenings and healthcare. But I had a high level of understanding about most of the tests I was ordering due to the fact that I was deeply involved in the advocacy and education for my husband’s cancer care. Therefore, I would suggest you research any blood test and talk to your nurse or doctor before you ordering. It’s important to have a basic understanding of what you are ordering and why. It makes little sense to order a blood test for yourself that you have no understanding of – Research and Ask. This is an essential part of being an empowered patient.
Private Blood Tests
iMedical Blood Testing – Build Your Own Pathology Tests
Order your own Blood Tests Online in Australia – NATA accredited and confidential.
iMedcial makes getting your own blood work done simple and quick. No need to wait in a waiting room. Just select the tests you want, we will email you the pathology request where you can present to a pathology collection center near you and have your blood tests completed. We email your results in approx 24-48 hours, usually the next day. Rarer tests may take longer.
Highly flexible Pathology ordering. You can tailor tests to exactly what you need without wasting money on unwanted tests.
- You may want to investigate a condition that runs in the family
- Check something that Medicare will not cover
- Check something you cannot get a referral for
- Or just gain some peace of mind, identifying any risks that you may suspect rightly or wrongly. It is your right to know.
Whatever your reason, we have a comprehensive range of Blood Tests designed to give access to your health which can then be taken to your Dr for further investigation if warranted.
iMedical offer comprehensive Blood Testing and other Services for
- Hormone Testing for Men & Women
- Sports hormone testing
- Body Building and PEDs blood tests
- Thyroid checks
- Iron Studies and Heavy Metals blood testing
- Health & well-being checks
- STI testing
- Immunity, Diabetes, Blood Group testing
5 Simple Steps to Ordering Your Own Lab Tests Online
By James Wantuck, MD, Special to Everyday Health
The prospect of ordering your own blood work can seem scary, and you may not have even realized you could order lab tests online without a doctor’s okay.
But for some of my patients, the ability to choose the tests they want is a freedom they celebrate.
Perhaps you want to have more frequent testing than your doctors are prescribing, or you want more extensive testing or prefer to have sensitive tests (sexually transmitted disease tests, for example) done without having a conversation.
Or maybe you’re just curious about your own body chemistry and want to learn more.
It’s been possible for you to order your own lab tests for many years, but the idea gained momentum with the quantified self movement, access to more detailed health information via the Internet, and lower lab costs.
Fortunately for the inquisitive person, several companies have sprung up to meet this need. These online labs allow you to select and purchase a variety of tests and get results and interpretations via a simple email.
If you decide to order your own tests, keep in mind that more information is not always better. Some tests may result in false positives or false negatives and lead to unnecessary medical procedures and psychological stress — not to mention the pain of getting stuck with a needle. These are real risks, and many physicians believe they outweigh the benefit of having access to this kind of service.
That said, it’s better to be educated about ordering your own tests if you’re going to do it. Here’s how:
1. Choose an Online Lab
Most, if not all, of the online testing companies use nationwide networks of blood-draw and urine sample collection facilities run by Quest Diagnostics. This central laboratory is regulated under the federal Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The individual companies through which you can order tests are typically not regulated or licensed, except by some state and local governments.
The most important thing to look for in a particular company is the website’s security set-up. Having your credit card stolen is one thing, but the theft of of your most recent syphilis test results is quite another.
To feel confident that you’re picking a reliable company, look for:
- An “s” in the website address (https://), which indicates that it’s secure
- A password-protected login system
- Positive Better Business Bureau ratings
- Online reviews on Yelp or similar websites.
2. Pick the Tests You Want
This may be the most difficult part. Unless you have specific tests in mind, or you’re a doctor or other healthcare professional, how do you know where to start?
Online testing companies often pre-package test panels to suit particular needs, with offerings like a woman’s health panel or a heart health checkup. Most of this is savvy marketing (who wouldn’t want a heart health checkup?). So if you aren’t sure, or there are specific symptoms you’re worried about, it’s best to consult with a physician about which tests are necessary rather than pay an arm and a leg for a bunch of tests you may not need.
While some testing is straightforward, other tests aren’t. Cholesterol levels, STD tests, and blood counts are usually either normal or not normal, and they’re highly accurate.
Because of the way some tests work, the more you order, the more likely it is that one of them is going to be falsely abnormal (or falsely normal, for that matter).
I would recommend very few lab tests for healthy people without any symptoms. I would specifically recommend against ordering tests for hormone levels, because these can be affected by time of day and many other factors and therefore aren’t easy to interpret without a physician’s advice.
I would also avoid any tests for vitamin or mineral levels (except maybe vitamin D), because nearly 100 percent of people get plenty of vitamins and minerals in their food. In most cases, you’re better off spending your money eating well or taking a daily multivitamin than measuring your levels.
3. Choose a Physical Lab to Have Blood or Other Samples Taken
As I mentioned, online companies use the national network of Quest Diagnostics to collect your blood or other samples, and to run your tests. Quest has several thousand labs all over the United States, so you can have your samples taken locally and conveniently. Most of these locations are open during normal business hours, and sometimes on Saturday mornings.
4. Go to the Lab to Have Your Samples Taken
Labs can draw blood, take urine samples, and the like. They have certified personnel on hand to draw your blood, and they won’t charge any additional fees because you’ve already paid online with your credit card when you ordered the tests.
Be aware that, for the most part, your insurance won’t pay for lab tests unless you consult a doctor first. And you may be surprised at the costs: Tests range in price from around $20 up to thousands of dollars.
Sometimes the additional cost will be worth it to you. Other times, it’s really best to talk with a doctor and have your insurance cover the lab work.
5. Get Your Results and an Expert’s Interpretation
Online labs will contact you with results; timing will vary depending on which tests you ordered. Typically, results are available on the lab’s secure website or via e-mail. Many sites offer doctor or other healthcare provider consultations along with the results.
Rest assured that every one of these companies must have a physician review all results and take appropriate and timely action in getting you care if you need it.
Ordering your own lab tests is pretty simple. If you’re hesitant to try, I hope these guidelines answer your questions and allay your fears.
James Wantuck, MD, is chief medical officer and a practicing physician at PlushCare, an online service that provides virtual physician consultations and lab testing. He received his medical degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
PHOTO: Robert Nicholas/Getty Images
DIY Blood Tests? There’s A Downside To Ordering Your Own
“I’m afraid there’s a growing sense that the path to health is through testing,” says Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, a Dartmouth Institute internist who has written books on the pitfalls of overdiagnosis. Encouraging the worried well to order their own blood tests feeds that mindset, he says. TEK Image/Science Photo Library/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption TEK Image/Science Photo Library/Getty Images
“I’m afraid there’s a growing sense that the path to health is through testing,” says Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, a Dartmouth Institute internist who has written books on the pitfalls of overdiagnosis. Encouraging the worried well to order their own blood tests feeds that mindset, he says.
TEK Image/Science Photo Library/Getty Images
One aspect of the downfall of Theranos is the blood-testing company’s leveraging of the Do-It-Yourself ethos to promote its product. Theranos provides consumers with a menu of more than 200 low-cost diagnostic blood tests for an array of drugs, ailments, deficiencies and diseases.
It’s legal to order blood tests without consulting a doctor in about two dozen states. But should you?
Theranos and some other medical labs say yes, while critics argue that’s a recipe for disaster.
Here’s Theranos’ founder, Elizabeth Holmes, at TEDMED in 2014, lacing her stemwinder of a presentation with the ideals of patient self-empowerment.
“My own life’s work in building Theranos is to redefine the paradigm of diagnosis away from one in which people have to present with a symptom in order to get access to information about their bodies,” she said, “to one in which every person, no matter how much money they have or where they live, has access to actionable health information at the time it matters.”
She also pitched the crowd an absurdity:
An inspection by the federal government last year found that deficiencies at Theranos’ California lab could “pose immediate jeopardy to patient health and safety.” The company is currently waiting for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to render a final decision on whether it will lose its license to operate its labs.
But, for now, Theranos still does tests at its wellness centers in dozens of Walgreens and other locations in Arizona, plus one in California.
Theranos isn’t the only company marketing blood testing to the worried well. WellnessFX has a partnership with the longtime medical laboratory Quest Diagnostics; consumers in all but seven states can use the WellnessFX website to order their own “biomarker” tests online, along with more traditional tests of thyroid function, blood sugar or testosterone.
Like Theranos, WellnessFX has baked into its marketing campaign the ideals of patient access and independence.
“A lot of the data that can be used to help understand what is best for the patient — historically, that’s always been the clipboard that’s been turned around facing the physician … and never really been shown to the patient,” said WellnessFX co-founder Brent Vaughan in a 2013 promotional video. “Because there’s always been this belief that patients can’t understand — or they don’t want to understand — this information.”
A Growing Trend
Last year, LabCorp, a behemoth in medical diagnostics, dipped a toe in the waters of DIY diagnostics by allowing Arizona consumers to order their own tests. LabCorp CEO David King said in an email that the company’s market research shows a “significant percentage” of consumers are interested in initiating tests on their own. The company plans to expand the service into other states later this year.
“As consumers bear more of the cost of health care out of pocket, they should be, and are becoming, increasingly engaged in managing their health care,” King said. “We absolutely support them in doing so.”
Last April, when the state of Arizona enacted its law — pushed by Theranos — allowing consumers to order their own tests, the bill passed in the House 60-0 and the Senate 26-2. Sen. Steve Farley, a Democrat, was one of the “no” votes. He isn’t surprised at Theranos’ unraveling.
“Really, what we were being asked to do in that bill was to allow our constituents in Arizona to become beta testers, and use their own bodies as the tool of that beta testing,” he said. (Theranos declined to comment.)
The debate over the wisdom of cutting doctors out of the diagnostic loop has been going on for years. Some academics have been vocal about their reservations. Dr. Norman Paradis, an emergency medicine physician and professor of medicine at Dartmouth who has consulted for diagnostic startups, calls the model of offering a wide assortment of tests — as Theranos does — a recipe for disaster.
“If you simply run medical tests in large numbers of people who don’t have the signs and symptoms of a certain disease, then many of the results you get will be false positives,” he explained.
And those patients could then wind up going farther down the rabbit hole of more invasive, potentially harmful tests and treatment.
Paradis said getting medical students and even medical residents to appropriately order tests is difficult enough. “So if it’s difficult for them, it’s even harder for the layperson.”
Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, an internist at the Dartmouth Institute and author of several books on the problems of overdiagnosis, thinks getting your own blood tests is part of the larger negative trend — testing people who aren’t really sick.
“I’m afraid there’s a growing sense that the path to health is through testing,” he said. “But you don’t test yourself to health. Health is much more about how you move, what you eat and finding joy and purpose in life.”
WellnessFX has taken concerns about false positives into account, said Dr. Murdoc Khalegi, an emergency medicine physician, and the company’s medical director. He said the company works with physicians to make sure the tests it offers are not susceptible to inaccurate results.
“We work very hard to that are something a consumer can understand, like having elevated cholesterol or blood sugar,” Khalegi said. “We encourage all of our results to be shared with physicians. But to restrict people from even having that information, which is the way it currently exists in some settings, would be unfortunate. People should be aware if they have certain health risks.”
The Center for Democracy & Technology’s Michelle De Mooy, who has researched the issues of privacy and transparency in health care, dismisses the argument that patients can’t make knowledgeable decisions about when to get tested. She said the issue of false positives is “pretty reasonably addressed” with warnings.
Both she and Khalegi point to the high cost of health care as one reason to give patients more direct access to diagnostic tests. It’s often cheaper for the patient, they say. Having a health insurance policy with a high deductible, or having a lack of access to transportation or child care are reasons people might choose to get tests in the most efficient, least time-consuming way possible.
“The economic disparity question is one that the health care establishment tends to gloss over,” De Mooy said.
One Patient’s Story
Amy, who lives in Santa Cruz, Calif., and asked us not to use her last name, to protect her medical privacy, explained why she was motivated to go online last year to order her own test for iron-deficiency anemia, though she was feeling healthy.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force makes no recommendation one way or the other regarding testing for iron-deficiency anemia among people who are asymptomatic. But Amy is vegan, and some of her friends persuaded her to seek out testing because cutting meat and dairy from your diet can increase the risk of iron-deficiency anemia.
And because of her health policy’s high deductible and what she said were bad experiences with insurance companies, Amy didn’t want to go through her health insurer.
Her iron level came back low, according to the test result. But rather than start taking an iron supplement, make changes to her diet or take other action on her own, she made an appointment with a doctor, where she mentioned she’d donated blood a week before the test. Amy hadn’t known this would deplete her iron. And because her other numbers were fine, the doctor told her not to worry.
The whole experience — the blood draw notwithstanding — was painless and reassuring, Amy said.
“I liked being able to answer my own questions and to go to the site and pick which things I was curious about. I like being able to do it independently, since I don’t have a regular general practitioner I go to.”
In some ways Amy fits the profile that both advocates and opponents of self-testing point to: She had no symptoms of anemia and got a test that wound up being unnecessary. But she also felt she had a psychological need to know, and a financial need to pursue the answer cheaply.
Murdoc, of WellnessFX, said that while he defers to official guidelines on medical testing, Amy probably did the right thing in checking for anemia.
“It’s a very cheap blood test,” he said.
This story was produced by KQED’s daily health and technology blog, Future of You. The blog’s host and editor is Jon Brooks.