NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 1, 2006

One of the most basic aspects of health care reform is getting consumers to take more responsibility for their own wellness and disease prevention.  In early May, a company called MyMedLab launched a new, direct-to-consumer lab test program designed to help them do just that, says Devon M. Herrick, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Patients willing to take greater control have access to an increasing array of medical tests to assess the state of their health.  Direct medical testing can help them avoid costly health problems by identifying conditions early.  They may read the results themselves and then discuss them with their doctor, particularly when the test results indicate cause for concern, says Herrick:

  • MyMedLab--a 13-year-old company based in Missouri--uses the Internet to help consumers obtain information on the state of their health, at prices 50 to 80 percent lower than they would pay for physician-ordered tests at a clinic.
  • After registering and paying online, consumers can stop by one of 1,100 affiliated collection points near local medical centers across the United States to have blood drawn or provide other types of samples.
  • Patients can choose from among more than 1,500 different tests available through MyMedLab. However, most patients will likely pick one of the packages of popular screening tests that are especially suited to common health conditions they can easily understand, such as high cholesterol.

A bundled package of tests provides detailed information at a cost much lower than ordering the tests individually.  Tests are conveniently grouped by age, sex and family history, says Herrick.

Some of MyMedLab's patients order tests solely for their own information, while many discuss the results with their physician.  

Source: Devon Herrick, "Patients Get Direct Access to Lab Tests," Heartland Institute, August 1, 2006.


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