How Much Does a Tuberculosis Test Cost?
A tuberculosis test, also known as a TB or PPD test, is a skin test that determines if someone has developed an immune response to a bacteria that causes tuberculosis. TB is a common disease that kills more than three million people worldwide each year and will often affect the lungs and almost any other organ in the body. People who have tuberculosis may experience symptoms similar to the flu, and some may not experience any symptoms at all.
How much is it?
- On average, a test can cost anywhere from $10 to $65 at a local doctor’s office, health department or a pharmacy such as CVS or Walgreens. These tests are commonly found at health departments, where anyone can get them for less than $25. If the test is performed at a doctor’s office, then an office visit fee may apply, which usually starts at $100.
- The CVS Minute Clinic, for instance, charges $35 for the TB test and another $30 to read the test. Walgreens, on the other hand, charges $28 for the initial testing and $25 to read the results. At the moment, it doesn’t appear Rite Aid offers the tests at its locations.
- For example, MuskegonHealth.net, which is the health department for Muskegon, Michigan, charges $18 for a TB test.
- A “two-step” test, which is often required for those who work in a healthcare setting, will simply take the test twice. The test has to be done twice because, with some people, the first skin test can result in a false negative due to the immune system’s response to TB. If a second test is performed, it could allow the immune system to respond if the individual was previously exposed to TB. A two-step system, with the results, can cost $65 to $110.
- A Quantiferon TB blood test, which won’t require a return visit, can cost $75 to $110. If you go this route, then the results can often be given to you over the phone or e-mailed to you.
What is going to be included?
- During the test, a small amount of the TB protein will be injected under the skin, usually on the inner forearm. After this injection, you will be asked to come back 48 to 72 hours later to see if the area is infected. The test Typically, if the skin is raised or thickened, this could mean an infection took place, but this will all depend on the size of the bump located on the arm. This is what a positive TB test will look like. The whole process takes less than five minutes. If it’s a two-step test, the process will be repeated.
- Where can I get a TB test? These tests can be performed at any CVS Minute Clinic, Walgreens, the local health department, urgent care centers, labs or a local doctor’s office.
What are the extra costs?
- As stated above, a visit to your doctor’s office will often incur an office visit fee, which is usually more than $100.
- Some clinics may charge separately for the analysis/reading.
- If positive, a doctor will want to run additional tests such as taking a chest x-ray and blood work. For instance, a blood test will be needed, and if the results are positive, then a chest x-ray will then be able to show the doctor if the disease is active. If confirmed with the x-ray, then a provider will want to discuss more testing and treatment options for the future.
Tips to know
- Even though it’s on a decline in the United States, Tuberculosis is still the leading cause of death worldwide.
- A negative test won’t always mean someone is free of tuberculosis.
- How long is a TB test good for? Usually, a test is good for up to one year, while a chest x-ray will depend on the results. Most places, if they require this test, will accept results for up to two years, but all policies will vary.
- As for side effects, the test isn’t known to make you sick; however, it can cause itchy skin or swelling.
- Getting a TB skin test — does it hurt? According to those who have had the test done in the past, they note it as “slight pressure” from a needle when it’s injected under your skin, which will feel like a quick pinch. Since this needle is only going under a layer of skin, not the muscle, most won’t feel anything at all.
How can I save money?
- Highly consider choosing a health clinic or the local health department as this tends to be the cheapest option. For those who meet certain income requirements, local health departments will be more than happy to administer the shots for free. According to most, this is the cheapest place to get a TB test.
- Because TB tests are required by many employers, check with your HR department to see if the test is covered through your job.
- If you have health insurance, see if they would cover the procedure.
- Some colleges will have a health lab on site that may be able to offer its students a discounted rate.
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