NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Blood Tests Could Soon Be as Easy as a Trip to The Drugstore

July 13, 2015

A little-known healthcare start-up is slowly setting the stage to transform blood tests. Theranos, a California based company that offers about 153 tests for under $10, scored three major coups in the past week.

  • They won FDA approval for their patented technology that performs complex medical tests using just a few drops,
  • A bill the company co-sponsored in Arizona that allows state residents to pay for a lab test without requiring a doctor's order or insurance company's participation was signed into law.
  • The company just announced their expansion to Pennsylvania, where they're partnering with the state's largest health insurer to offer their lab services to policy members.

There are two big reasons Americans should care about these new developments:

  • If Theranos successfullys roll out their finger-stick blood tests in more than 8,000 Walgreens stores throughout the nation, a person who is closely monitoring his cholesterol levels could pay just $2.99 -- half the Medicare rate -- to get his numbers without paying a doctor to order them first.
  • Theranos' clear, simple list of blood tests could have the effect of forcing other labs and blood testing services to lower their own costs. Like many other medical procedures in the United States, the cost of blood work can vary hugely from laboratory to laboratory, and having health insurance doesn't make a difference.

"Many states have all kinds of medical procedures that patients themselves aren't allowed to access unless their doctor orders it. A doctor will tell you patients are not equipped to make decisions like this, but I think increasingly patients are deciding that maybe they don't want to run to the doctor for every single ache and pain," explained National Center for Policy Analysis senior fellow Devon Herrick.

Source: Anna Almendrala, "Blood Tests Could Soon Be As Easy As A Trip To The Drugstore," Huffington Post, July 8, 2015.


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