How Much Does a Lyme Disease Test Cost?


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

Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in the United States, with almost 25,000 cases confirmed in 2011.

This disease can cause aching muscles, fatigue and/or joint pain, and in most scenarios, a Lyme disease blood test won’t be necessary.

How much does a Lyme disease test cost?

In most cases, if there’s a clear sign of Lyme disease — a painless rash spreading, similar to that of a bullseye — then your doctor often won’t recommend a test unless you were in an area known for Lyme disease.  Instead, your doctor will recommend antibiotics, which, even if you don’t have insurance, should cost less than $30 at your local pharmacy.

The antibody blood tests, the most commonly used tests, if you were to want one and/or your doctor recommends it, then a simple Lyme disease test can cost close to $250 without insurance, in addition to the doctor’s visit.  This cost will really depend on the type of Lyme disease blood test you want.  Again, your doctor, after performing a thorough physical exam and examining your medical history, will recommend the blood test if you were in an area known for ticks with Lyme disease and/or have symptoms such as a fever, swelling in your joints and/or warmth in the knees, shoulders or wrists.

Type of TestDescriptionAverage Cost (without insurance)
Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)This is the most common and sensitive test used to identify Lyme disease antibodies$150 + doctor's visit
Western blot testThis test can also identify Lyme disease and will often be used to confirm the results of the ELISA test.$125 + doctor's visit
Basic Lyme disease panel$250 + doctor's visit
Complete co-infection panel$700 + doctor's visit

According to this message thread on MetaFilter.com, a few members talked about what a Lyme disease test could cost, and most expected the total costs would be in the $300 to $700 range, with one member claiming he paid $700 for his son without health insurance.

The cost of an IGeneX Lyme disease test, for example, can cost $250 to $660, according to LymeDiseaseGuide.net.




Lyme disease test overview

A Lyme disease test will detect antibodies to the Lyme disease bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi in the blood, according to WebMD.com.

An antibody test can either be drawn from the fluid within the spine or joints, or it can be via a simple blood test; however, if your blood is drawn, it can take up to two months after becoming infected before the antibodies are detected.  Once these antibodies form, they can stay in your system for years, even after a treatment plan is developed.

An antibody test often starts with the ELISA test, as mentioned in the table above and recommended by the CDC, followed by the Western blot test to confirm the positive results of an ELISA test.  Both of these tests work in the same way as that of a blood test.  At your local doctor’s office or lab, a blood sample is drawn from your upper arm and sent off for analysis.

Test results are readily available within one to two weeks.

What are the extra costs?

The doctor’s visit to discuss the possibility of having the disease could cost $150 to $250 without any health insurance.

A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test can detect the genetic material of the Lyme disease bacteria, and in some cases, it may be used to identify a current infection if a doctor suspects you have the symptoms of Lyme disease and/or you didn’t get better with a round of antibiotics.

Tips to know:

The blood tests, as per ChoosingWisely.org, can trigger false positives, suggesting you have the disease, even though you really don’t.  This scenario, if it were to happen, could lead to an unnecessary treatment plan with antibiotics that could cause extreme side effects.  Aside from these negative results, it could also hurt your pocketbook, seeing you would need additional x-rays, urine tests, additional blood tests and doctor follow-up visits.  The CDC, however, states the ELISA, EIA and IFA tests have a very good sensitivity rate several weeks after the infection.

Risks are very minimal, but in some circumstances, you may see a small bruise at the blood draw site, or in rare cases, the vein may swell.

According to the CDC, the chances you have Lyme disease will depend on the type of tick, where you acquired it and how long it has been attached to you.  In the United States, many types of ticks bite people, but only the blacklegged ticks, which need to be attached to your skin for at least 24 hours, transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

How can I save money?

If the Lyme disease test is performed at a local doctor’s office, it’s often covered by your health insurance and you will only be responsible for your co-pay and deductible as long as it’s deemed medically necessary.  However, if you were to order an online lab test, it won’t be covered by insurance, so it’s best to talk to your insurance company ahead of time to know the policy and what’s covered.


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