Lack of price transparency, huge variations in price for the same services, and the complexity of healthcare billing can make it difficult to know what you’re going to pay when you need bloodwork done. Even when they have traditional health insurance, most people go to get their tests done with no idea what they’re going to pay until they get the bill. In an example from 2021, one patient was charged 800% more for the same preventive bloodwork tests at a hospital than from a local testing center.
Though there have been efforts to standardize healthcare pricing, the fact is that huge variability still exists. Because Zion HealthShare does not share in preventive bloodwork costs, we want our members to be equipped with the knowledge they need to get affordable bloodwork. Fortunately, with a little bit of effort, it isn’t too difficult to find the best price available and avoid those 800% markups. Labs and bloodwork can be entirely affordable as a self-pay patient.
1. Shop Around
Last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) passed a law that requires all hospitals to post transparent pricing for medical services online. You can read more about the law on CMS.gov, but the gist is that every hospital in the US is required to provide accessible pricing information for every service they offer with the goal of helping consumers shop around for the best price and know the price of services before they go to a hospital.
If you want to get bloodwork done at a hospital, you should be able to find the price online. But keep in mind that hospitals are more expensive than independent testing centers (sometimes by a lot!), and it may be worthwhile to look at these instead. Generally, these labs will have their pricing posted online.
If you can’t find online pricing, simply call the different testing places in your area and ask for their prices. Then compare the prices of the facilities you called. It’s as easy as that!
2. Ask for Self-Pay Discounts
Most people don’t realize you can negotiate prices on healthcare services. It’s as easy as asking for a self-pay discount. Tell your provider you are uninsured and ask for any discounts they can apply. We encourage you to get into the habit of asking every time you receive medical care.
While you are welcome to utilize your Zion HealthShare resources like the Medical Advocacy Service (see tip 5), you can also negotiate prices on your own. Another strategy is to ask for itemized bills to see exactly what you will be charged for. From there, see if you can negotiate down certain charges, especially those that seem too high. It may seem wrong, but it’s easier for many hospitals to drop charges than to try and justify them if you are persistent with your questions.
3. Try Direct Primary Care
If you haven’t looked into a DPC doctor near you yet, why not? DPCs are a great way to save money on preventive and routine care. Most DPC practices offer unlimited visits and a focus on holistic health. When you need bloodwork done, most offer pre-negotiated discounts for bloodwork and other labs.
Many labs will be included with your DPC membership, while others can be obtained at a fraction of the retail cost. While you’re at it, check out some of the many other advantages of pairing your Zion Health membership with direct primary care.
This table shows bloodwork prices for one of our DPC partners in Louisiana compared to the standard retail costs:
|Lab||DPC Cost||Retail Cost|
|Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP)||$3.40||$40.00|
|Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP)||$2.50||$148.00|
4. Use At-Home Blood Tests
At-home blood tests are an increasingly viable way to get preventive bloodwork done. They have become increasingly safe and reliable. In addition to having a lower cost, they are also convenient. You can order a blood testing kit straight to your home, perform it without having to sit in the waiting room of a clinic and send it back for results.
Unlike bloodwork performed in a lab, you don’t have to draw a lot of blood for these tests. Most kits come with a lancet to prick your finger, just like blood sugar tests for people with diabetes.
We recommend talking to your doctor about at-home testing and looking at your options the next time you need bloodwork done.
5. Call the Medical Advocacy Service
We want to help you get the lowest price possible, whether or not your service is eligible for sharing. Contact our Medical Advocacy team, and we will assist you in locating reasonably priced healthcare providers.