How Much Does the A1c Test Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 14, 2018

The A1c test is s test used to monitor blood sugar for those who have diabetes or who are at high risk for developing diabetes.

Measuring A1c, a Glycated hemoglobin, offers clinicians a general picture of the patient’s average blood sugar levels and also helps evaluate how well the patient is managing diabetes.  The higher the A1c levels, the greater the odds of acquiring complications linked to diabetes.

In general terms, this test will check to see how much glucose is attaching to your red blood cells.

Unlike checking your blood and recording your blood sugar on a daily basis, the A1c test can reveal information about your blood sugar for the past two to three months.

Akiko Yabuuchi, a Ph.D. in George Daley’... by NIH-NCATS, on Flickr
Akiko Yabuuchi, a Ph.D. in George Daley’…” (CC BY 2.0) by NIH-NCATS

How much does an A1c test cost?

On average, be prepared to spend from $35 to $60 for the A1c blood test without insurance.  The costs will depend on where you have the test done and where you live.  Most insurance tests will cover up to two test per year, so check with your insurance company before paying out of pocket for the test.

Walgreens , for example, offersA1c testing for $35 and makes it available only to individuals who have been self-identified as having diabetes.

At DirectLabs.com, the Hemoglobin A1c test costs $39.

MinuteClinic, a division of pharmacy health care provider CVS Caremark Corporation, provides the A1c test for $59.

According to TheDiabetesCouncil.com, most hospital tests will cost around $86 per test, depending on your co-pay or close to $40 for a self-check at-home kit.




A1c test overview

During the test, a review of the patient’s medical history is performed as well as a blood pressure test prior to the start of the A1c test, which can be done via different methods.  Drawing the blood can be done via a finger stick (mostly for kits), a prick on the tip of the finger, or by inserting a needle into a vein in the arm and drawing a small amount of blood.  The blood that is drawn will then be sent to a lab for analysis.

After the test results, which usually takes 48 to 72 hours, the health care provider will discuss the results with the patient and provides recommendations.  Information about the visit summary is then sent to the patient’s primary healthcare provider.

According to the  Mayo Clinic, “For someone who does not have diabetes, a normal A1C level can range from 4.5 to 6 percent.  Someone who has had uncontrolled diabetes for a long time might have an A1C level above 8 percent.  When the A1C test is used to diagnose diabetes, an A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests indicates you have diabetes.  A result between 5.7 and 6.4 percent is considered pre-diabetes, which indicates a high risk of developing diabetes.  For most people who have previously diagnosed diabetes, an A1C level of 7 percent or less is a common treatment target.  Higher targets may be chosen in some individuals.  If your A1C level is above your target, your doctor may recommend a change in your diabetes treatment plan.  Remember, the higher your A1C level, the higher your risk of diabetes complications.

What are the extra costs?

Typically, your doctor will want to order a test every 90 to 180 days to see how well your blood sugar levels are being managed.

If you have higher than average levels, then your doctor will recommend a diabetes management program, which can affect your monthly budget due to dieting changes.

Tips to know:

Because the A1c test is a simple blood test, you can eat and drink normally before the test.  There is no special preparation needed.

How often a patient needs to take the A1c test depends on the diabetes type, the treatment plan, and blood sugar control.  Many patients with type 2 diabetes are advised to undergo the test twice a year, while those with type 1 diabetes are recommended to take the test three to four times each year.  Diabetic patients having trouble keeping their blood sugar level within a specified range are advised to have the test 4 times a year.  Some health care providers advise patients to have an A1c check at least two times a year.

How can I save money?

Online labs are often much cheaper than a local doctor’s office and/or pharmacy clinic.  While the results may be slower, compare the rates online before going to your local doctor’s office as you may find, even with insurance, it can still be cheaper to pay out of pocket online.

At home test kits are available, and while they shouldn’t replace the actual test at the local doctor’s office, it can still offer you an idea of where you stand in terms of readings.  The highly popular at-home tests on Amazon.com, for example, retail for about $40 per two tests, but the prices can lower if you were to purchase more in bulk.

According to one member on this Tudiabetes.org forum thread, they claimed that CVS will often hold a promotion where they offer free testing for a free diabetes checkup, so it doesn’t hurt to look for a promotion before ordering a test.

Some doctor’s offices may have a sample take-home test you can use in the future.  Ask your doctor if any were available that you could take advantage of.


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