5 Medical Tests You Can Order Yourself

In the past, ordering medical labs was a heavily controlled process. Getting tests without direct orders from your doctor and insurance company was next to impossible. Lucky for us, startups like Direct Labs and Walk-In Lab have started circumventing this process altogether, allowing people — particularly those without full-on health insurance — to go online and order labs on their own, at a fraction of the cost.

Here’s the scoop on at-home blood testing.

What’s so great about at-home testing?

Ordering medical diagnostics online allows people to take independent control of their health by providing indiscriminate access to data. These labs are able to test everything from thyroid function to testosterone levels, which means consumers have every opportunity to learn about how their bodies work and what areas they should address.

What’s this have to do with health insurance?

While at-home lab tests can never replicate the care and expertise of a doctor, they can be an inexpensive, supplemental way to get tests, especially if you don’t have insurance that covers them. Being able to initiate medical tests on your own is just one more way you can learn what you need to learn without having to go through a gatekeeper.

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What are the risks?

Cutting out the wisdom of a doctor is no small thing. Blood test are notoriously difficult to read, and many physicians have reservations about the implications of this ”DIY medicine” trend. Some particularly fear an epidemic of overdiagnosis, false positives and hypochondria.

Interested in ordering tests of your own? Acknowledge your limits and, if the cost savings are significant enough to warrant ordering the test yourself, request it, but let your doctor do the diagnosing.

Lab tests you can order without a doctor

Genetic DNA Testing

What it’s for: DNA analysis (like this one from 23andMe) combs your ancestry for genetic predispositions and other health data. Through this test you can learn about your heritage, which nutrients you are likely to be deficient in, how many distant relatives you have that share your DNA, and more!

What it requires: Just a drop of saliva. Most services provide a prepaid mail kit.

Where to get it done: Get the analysis through 23andMe, then use supplemental services like Genetic Genie to interpret the health implications related to your DNA.

What it costs: $99 at 23andMe; Genetic Genie is free

Lipid Profile

What it’s for: Lipid profile gives an overall picture of cardiac risk and can help determine if dietary changes are required. It typically includes total cholesterol, HDL (“good” cholesterol) and LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels, triglycerides and an NMR profile and ApoB profile if you have a history of heart disease.

What it requires: Lipid profiles require a blood sample and testing typically takes 1-2 days.

Where to get it done: Get your test done at Direct Labs or a similar company.

What it costs: $39 at Direct Labs

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Basic Wellness Testing

What it’s for: Basic lab testing typically covers thyroid, electrolytes, glucose, calcium, vitamin D and iron data, as well as info on lipids, DHEA, testosterone, estradiol, progesterone and a few others. This information is helpful if you sense an imbalance, you’re taking medication that might affect these levels or you know you have a predisposition to be low in a certain area. Once you know the issue, you can correct it!

What it requires: This test requires a blood specimen and results typically take 7-10 days.

Where to get it done: We like the comprehensiveness of Direct Lab’s test.

What it costs: $319 at Direct Labs

Thyroid Panel w/TSH

What it’s for: Your thyroid regulates many body processes, including growth, energy levels, body temperature and heart rate. Thyroid panels help evaluate thyroid gland function and diagnose thyroid disorders.

What it requires: Just a blood sample. View a sample report here!

Where to get it done: Get labs done through Direct Labs or a similar service, then speak with a thyroid specialist to learn the implications and get advice as to how to proceed.

What it costs: $49 at Direct Labs

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Complete Blood Count

What it’s for: These tests include iron, ferritin, transferrin saturation percentage and info on the size and color of your red blood cells. This is a great way to identify anemia, infection, elevated immune activity, B12 deficiency or iron storage diseases.

What it requires: Just a blood sample.

Where to get it done: Walk-In Lab offers a broad test with differential and platelets.

What it costs: $28 at Walk-In Lab

 

Super Important Disclaimer: Medical testing services like those mentioned about do not guarantee a state of health. The results provided to you are for informational purposes only and are not intended (or able to) replace the care and experience of a certified medical practitioner. Depending on the nature of your testing, a confirmatory test may be recommended to resolve a positive or indeterminate result. 

43 comments

hELEN h
hELEN hEARFIELD10 days ago

tyfs

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Donna G
Donna G13 days ago

I would not do any of these things. Chances are really good that if my doctor deemed any of these tests necessary and ordered them, my insurance would cover them. The exception is that I will not get a DNA test. I already know that I am 100% human. Once any of these DNA companies get a copy of your report, it belongs to them and they are free to do with it what they want. Even turn it over to the criminal justice system.

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Edgar Z
Edgar Zuim16 days ago

Interesting. Thanks

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Ruth S
Ruth S16 days ago

Thanks.

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Angela G
Angela G16 days ago

would like to see a story on giving your DNA to companies that then "own" it or can use it however they wish

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Winnie A
Winn A16 days ago

Thanks

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Winnie A
Winn A16 days ago

noted

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Carol S
Carol S16 days ago

Interesting!

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Emma Z
Emma L16 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Richard B
Richard B16 days ago

Thank you

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