Is blood work covered by insurance? How to use your insurance for blood work
June 9, 2023
Health insurance typically covers blood work, but the extent of coverage can vary based on the type of test, the reason for the test, your specific insurance plan, and whether the lab is in-network or out-of-network.
Here are some key factors to consider:
- Preventive vs. Diagnostic: Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), preventive services, which can include some types of blood work, are often fully covered without a copay or coinsurance, even if you haven't met your deductible. This could include tests for cholesterol levels, diabetes, certain types of cancer, HIV, and more, depending on your age and other risk factors. However, if the blood work is being done for diagnostic purposes – for instance, to diagnose a symptom or monitor a known condition – it might not be considered preventive and could come with out-of-pocket costs.
- In-Network vs. Out-of-Network: Most insurance plans have a network of providers with which they have negotiated lower rates. You'll generally pay less out-of-pocket if you use an in-network lab. However, some plans may provide some coverage for out-of-network labs, though your costs will likely be higher. Others, like HMOs and EPOs, typically only cover out-of-network services in emergencies.
- Deductibles, Copayments, and Coinsurance: Depending on your plan, you may have to pay a deductible before your insurance starts to cover costs. After that, you might pay a copayment (a fixed amount) or coinsurance (a percentage of the cost) for each service.
- Prior Authorization: Some insurance plans require prior authorization for certain tests, meaning your healthcare provider needs to get approval from the insurance company before you get the test. If the provider does not get this approval, the service may not be covered.
Always check with your insurance provider for detailed information about your specific coverage. If you're unsure, you can also ask your doctor or the lab to check your insurance coverage for you before you get the blood work done.
Is out-of-network blood work covered by insurance?
Whether out-of-network blood work is covered by your insurance depends largely on the type of health insurance plan you have.
If you have a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan or a Point of Service (POS) plan, these types of plans typically offer some coverage for out-of-network services, including blood work. However, the coverage will usually be less than for in-network services, meaning you will likely pay more out-of-pocket. Furthermore, out-of-network providers can bill you for the difference between what your insurance agrees to pay and what the provider charges, a practice known as balance billing.
On the other hand, if you have a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or an Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) plan, out-of-network services are typically not covered except in cases of emergencies or with prior authorization. If you choose to go out-of-network for blood work without an emergency or without prior authorization, you will likely be responsible for the full cost.
It's crucial to check with your insurance company about the specifics of your plan's coverage for out-of-network services. There may be additional requirements or limitations, and the details can vary from plan to plan. Understanding these details can help you avoid unexpected costs and make informed healthcare decisions.
If you decide to see a specialist for out-of-network blood work, SuperBill for insurance can help! We file out-of-network claims on your behalf, and we follow up with your insurer to make sure you get the best reimbursement possible.
Does health insurance cover blood work differently depending on your plan?
Yes, health insurance coverage for blood work can vary significantly depending on your specific plan. Here are some factors that can affect how your blood work is covered:
- Type of Plan: Different types of health insurance plans offer varying degrees of coverage. Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) and Point of Service (POS) plans typically provide some coverage for both in-network and out-of-network services. Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) plans usually cover only in-network services, except in emergencies or with prior authorization.
- In-Network vs. Out-of-Network: In general, you'll pay less if you use an in-network lab because insurance companies have negotiated lower rates with these providers. Some plans may provide coverage for out-of-network services but usually at a higher cost to you.
- Preventive vs. Diagnostic: If the blood work is part of preventive care (such as routine screening tests), many insurance plans cover it fully. However, if the blood work is for diagnostic purposes (e.g., to investigate a symptom or monitor a known health condition), it might come with out-of-pocket costs.
- Deductibles, Copayments, and Coinsurance: Depending on your plan, you may need to pay a deductible before your insurance begins to cover costs. After that, you might pay a copayment (a fixed amount) or coinsurance (a percentage of the cost) for each service.
- Prior Authorization: Some insurance plans require prior authorization for certain tests, meaning your healthcare provider must get approval from the insurance company before the test. Without this approval, the service may not be covered.
- High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs): If you're enrolled in an HDHP, you'll typically pay more out-of-pocket before coverage begins, but you may also have access to an HSA, which allows you to pay for eligible healthcare expenses, like blood work, with pre-tax dollars.
Always check with your insurance provider to understand the specifics of your coverage for blood work. Plans can vary widely, and understanding your plan can help you avoid unexpected costs.
How to find blood work covered by insurance
To ensure that your blood work is covered by your insurance, follow these steps:
- Understand Your Coverage: Review your insurance policy details. Look for information about laboratory services or diagnostic tests. Your plan will specify whether in-network versus out-of-network providers are covered and what your costs might be, including any necessary copayments, coinsurance, or deductibles.
- Check if the Test is Preventive or Diagnostic: Preventive tests are usually covered without cost-sharing under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), while diagnostic tests may involve out-of-pocket costs. Discuss with your doctor about the nature of your test.
- Choose In-Network Providers: In-network providers typically come with lower out-of-pocket costs, as insurance companies have negotiated rates with these providers. Find an in-network lab by using the search tool on your insurance company's website or by calling customer service.
- Obtain Prior Authorization if Needed: Some insurance plans require prior authorization for certain tests. Your healthcare provider's office will need to get this approval from the insurance company before you get the test.
- Contact Your Insurance Company: If you're unsure about any aspect of your coverage, contact your insurance company. You can confirm the specifics of your coverage, verify that the chosen lab is in-network, and check if prior authorization is needed.
- Review the Explanation of Benefits (EOB): After your blood work, you'll receive an EOB from your insurance company. This document breaks down what the insurance company paid and what you're responsible for. If you see discrepancies or have questions, contact your insurance provider.
By understanding your insurance coverage and taking these steps, you can help ensure that your blood work is covered by your insurance, minimizing your out-of-pocket costs.
What to do if you can’t afford blood work
If you can't afford necessary blood work, there are several options that may help reduce the cost or provide assistance:
- Discuss with Your Doctor: Inform your healthcare provider about your financial situation. They may be able to suggest alternative tests that are less expensive or equally effective. Some offices also have samples of medications they can provide at no cost.
- Payment Plan: Ask your healthcare provider or the lab if they offer payment plans. Many facilities are willing to provide this option, allowing you to pay off your bill over time rather than all at once.
- Negotiate the Cost: Some providers and labs may be willing to negotiate the cost of services. Don't hesitate to ask if they can lower the price or offer a cash discount.
- Compare Costs: Prices for medical tests can vary widely between providers and labs. If possible, shop around to find the most cost-effective option.
- Use a Clinic or Community Health Center: Some community health centers or clinics offer services based on a sliding scale, meaning they adjust the cost based on your income.
- Seek Financial Assistance Programs: Some hospitals and health systems offer financial assistance programs, also known as charity care programs, which reduce costs for people who qualify based on their income. Additionally, some nonprofit organizations provide financial aid or grants to help cover medical costs.
- Apply for Medicaid: If you meet the income requirements, you may qualify for Medicaid, a state and federal program that helps with healthcare costs.
- Check with Local Universities: If there's a university with a medical school nearby, they may offer discounted services performed by students under professional supervision.
- Look into Clinical Trials: Some clinical trials provide free or low-cost tests or treatments to participants. Websites like ClinicalTrials.gov can help you find trials you may be eligible for.
Remember, it's essential to communicate your financial concerns to your healthcare provider. Often, they can help you find resources or come up with a manageable plan for your care.
How SuperBill helps with blood work reimbursements
If you’re unsure whether or not your insurance covers blood work, or you don’t want to file the claim yourself, SuperBill may be able to help! SuperBill verifies your benefits, then files and tracks your out-of-network claims. We will update you on the status of your claim at every interval, and do everything we can to get it reimbursed. We even help with medical bill negotiation!
You can jump through all the hoops to make sure you get your blood work covered by insurance, OR you can let SuperBill for insurance handle it all for you. We have worked with countless patients to get them the reimbursement they deserve.