We know a 27-year-old man with a common problem. He’s uninsured, he’s not wealthy, and he wanted to know: How much does an STD test cost?
This man is sexually active, and he recently learned that an ex-girlfriend has been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Although their relationship ended months ago, he was exposed to chlamydia, which is one of the most common and most treatable STDs. (Here are the facts about chlamydia, and here’s a fact sheet that lists STDs.)
At age 27, this man is no longer eligible for coverage under his parents’ health insurance. This is the first time since the coverage expired that he has needed a doctor. He has a job as a contracted employee that does not offer health insurance, and he has very little cash flow, with rent and basic living expenses taking the bulk of his paycheck.
So he went searching for a place to be tested cheaply. Or even better, free.
A number of in-home testing services have sprung up, offering very different kinds of results, as this NPR story explains. Here’s one passage; for the full state of affairs, check out the story. “The idea of online STD testing isn’t new, but most services so far have been localized, limited in test options or still require visiting a lab or pharmacy. For example, residents of Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Alaska can request kits to be mailed to them with self-collection instructions and materials for genital and/or rectal swabs, but only for gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis,” via IWTK, a service run by a research lab at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Planned Parenthood has begun offering similar services through an app.
More than a dozen commercial companies nationally let consumers order STD testing kits online for other infections, but buyers may still have to visit a local lab for sample collection. The online businesses aim to offer many more tests without customers needing to go anywhere except the mailbox.
STD TEST PRICES
So how much does an STD screening cost?
At STDCHECK, we have heard about STD tests ranging from $25 to $350.
If a patient visits a clinic for an STD screening, he or she may first have to pay a doctor’s visit fee, which can cost anywhere from nothing to $200. The tests themselves are typically billed by the laboratory that analyzes them, which can be separate from the clinic. But certain clinics will offer some tests at a fixed price. So:
• one clinic in Manhattan offers patients gonorrhea and chlamydia tests for $25;
• another charges $45 for several STD tests, and no lab fee;
• and a third clinic charges $200 to conduct the tests in-house and send them to a lab, plus whatever the lab decides to charge to process the results.
Some places charge less for women than for men.
Our young man considered the NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan, which has a free clinic for testing, but after a phone call to the clinic, he said he felt it was too impersonal.
“Everybody knows about Planned Parenthood,” was his answer when we asked what came to mind once the free clinic was eliminated from his search. Planned Parenthood is not free, but it’s less costly than some places, and he knew other uninsured people his age who turned to Planned Parenthood for medical testing.
At Planned Parenthood, he was tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea. (He didn’t know whether he’d been exposed to gonorrhea on top of chlamydia, but he decided to get the test just to be safe.) Cost: $175.