How Much Does a Lyme Disease Test Cost?
Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in the United States, with almost 25,000 cases confirmed in 2011. The disease, caused by a spiral-shaped bacterium (spirochete) called Borrelia burgdorferi, is considered complex and potentially fatal.
The only way to contract Lyme disease is to be bitten by an infected tick; people cannot contract it from other people. While the disease can be hard to diagnose, there are testing methods used to find out whether or not a patient is infected. These tests include the ELISA test, the Western Blot test, and the MELISA test.
How much does it cost?
- Depending on the type of Lyme disease test needed, the costs can range anywhere from as little as $200 to as much as $600. At-home kits can be as little as $15; however, these tests will have to be sent to a lab for an additional fee.
- Fry Laboratories in Scottsdale, Arizona, offers a sample collection test kit for $15 (includes shipping). The lab also offers the Lyme Western Blot IgM/IgG test for $270.
- According to LymeDiseaseGuide.Org, the cost of a Lyme disease test can be expensive. A basic Lyme disease panel from IGeneX costs about $260, an initial Lyme disease panel costs around $420, and a complete co-infection panel costs approximately $600.
- Depending on your insurance, the Lyme testing may be covered if your doctor thinks that Lyme disease is a strong possibility.
What is going to be included?
- Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms and the likelihood of exposure to ticks infected with the disease. Symptoms of Stage I Lyme disease include fever, fatigue, headache, and a skin rash that takes the form of a bull’s eye. If left untreated, the disease can progress to the chronic Lyme level, also called post-treatment Lyme disease Syndrome (PTLDS); in this stage, it can spread to the joints, the heart, and the nervous system. This then results in a huge group of symptoms that may persist for months or years. In some cases, the patient never fully recovers from Lyme disease.
- Laboratory testing on the blood is typically performed to verify the presence of Lyme disease. The standard lab testing methods include the serological test ELISA and the Western Blot test, which both find Borrelia-specific antibodies. MELISA is a lymphocyte transformation test that determines cellular immunoreactivity typical of active Borrelia burgdorferi infections.
What are the extra costs?
- When ordering a Lyme test at some laboratories, you may be required to pay a fee of $15 to have the test kit mailed to you. For orders mailed directly to the office of the ordering physician, the fee is waived.
- If you choose to purchase an at home test and send the results to a lab for reading, your doctor may not recognize this as definitive. He will most likely want to do his own test to confirm the diagnosis, meaning that you will end up paying for two tests.
Tips to know:
- According to experts, only about 2% of tick bites actually lead to a Lyme disease diagnosis. The tick needs to be attached to a host’s body for 24 hours or more in order for the disease to develop, and that tick must be infecting with the bacteria.
- Not all individuals bitten by an infected tick develop bull’s eye rashes, but may still suffer Lyme disease symptoms. If you have a tick on you that you know suspect has been there for more than a day, you should get checked just to make sure.
- Lyme disease at its early stage, specifically within the first one or two months following an infected tick’s bite, can be treated with antibiotics. Chronic Lyme is much harder to diagnose and treat if it can even be cured. The treatment depends on a number of factors, such as the length of time since the tick bite, the symptoms that have occurred, and whether or not the patient is able to find a doctor who can treat it.
- Many Lyme disease tests can offer false negative results, particularly with patients in the early stage. This can lead to a misdiagnosis and the progression of the disease if this were to happen.
- Lyme disease patients who get treatment during the early stages of the disease typically recover quickly and completely through weeks of oral antibiotics. Patients who get treatment during the late stages may need a longer period of antibiotic therapy and may experience recurrent symptoms for the rest of their lives.
How can I save money?
- Check online for websites that offer Lyme disease tests at a discount. There is price variation among the sites, which depend on what test is ordered.
- Ask drug companies if they offer patient assistance programs, in which they give the drugs at a reduced amount or at no cost.
- Conduct research on the different Lyme disease groups and inquire about any possible assistance they can extend.
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