Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Directo-To-Consumer Lab Test Works Fine!

Fellow Forbes contributor and health care entrepreneur Dan Munro has taken advantage of Arizona’s new law allowing patients to buy lab tests directly without a physician’s order. It was a positive experience:
The Theranos process really has removed much of the friction I associate with blood tests I have taken in the past. Access is through a familiar retail facility with pharmacy hours. Billing is a typical retail transaction with credit, debit and HSA cards (or cash/check). The lowest price blood test is $2.70 (Glucose) and Theranos advertises that their pricing is at least 50% below Medicare reimbursement rates for all tests.
The highest price test on the Theranos order form was $59.95 ‒ a comprehensive test for Sexual Health. For comparison purposes, RequestATest (which appears to be an online, front-end for using LabCorp locations around the country), charges $199 for a comprehensive STD test and AnyLabTest Now (with 3 locations in the Phoenix metro) charges $229 for a comprehensive STD test.
The Obama administration is a fan of getting clinical data in the hands of patients. Here is a great opportunity for the administration to do something I’ve advocated forever: Tell Medicare beneficiaries in Arizona that if they can find a blood test for half the cost of the fee Medicare pays, Medicare will split the savings between the patient and taxpayers, adding some share of the savings to the patient’s Social Security deposit. (Note: Medicare would not recommend or endorse Theranos specifically. Theranos and Walgreens would take care of promoting the option.)

I’d be that if Medicare adopted such a policy, and beneficiaries in Arizona told their friends on Medicare around the country, other state legislatures would pass laws mimicking Arizona’s pretty quickly.

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