Lab tests for blood fats- Or how to make sure your summer indulgences don’t linger.

One of the things I do as a physician is help people to heal.

In order to do that, I want to have a great amount of information.  Information about where, when, who, how, duration, why a situation or symptom started or manifested.

And some tangible measurements for showing progress.

I look at laboratory reports as my benchline.  These reports give me a snapshot in time for a person’s health so we know where we started and can evaluate the treatment protocols effectiveness.

But for so many of my patients, getting lab work ordered is a difficult and expensive process.

You have to make an appointment, pay your co-pay, wait till the appointed time, convince your Dr. that you really do want the test.  See the hassle?

Most doctors have to order tests based on written protocols or insurance guidelines.

“if a patient has proven hypercholesteremia, then monitoring should occur at 6 and 12 month intervals for the first year of medication and yearly subsequently” reads the protocol from one company.

So if you are a patient who has already had tests run for something else, perhaps by another Doctor, your physician might balk at ordering another panel. And if you want the reassurance of another evaluation, you might end up paying for it all.

Have you ever gotten sticker shock from a medical bill? The range of prices is broad, and varies based in part on how many labs a doctor’s office sends to the particular lab.  The lab prices the tests to each Doctor based on volume.  High volume clinics pay less per test than low volume clinics.  It makes sense from a business standpoint.  After all, economy of scale works in every other industry.

But the medical lab industry is a bit different.  Most patients have no idea what a lab truly costs till they see the pass along billing from their doctors office.

 

 

I like to make things a bit more transparent for patients.  Some folks like to use their insurance, and I use my local labs for those folks.  But far more of my patients are paying out of pocket for more of their medical care.

And they want to know what things cost right up front.  For those folks, I use Direct Labs.

This company acts as a consolidator of orders, allowing them to price the labs as a high volume clinic.  The draw sites are the same ones I use locally.

Yes, I send my patients to the same place for the same labs and it costs sometimes as much as 1/2 less than if I had ordered them directly.  The difference is that my patient needs to pay up front for these savings.

Most of my patients have no problem with this at all.

 

Best of all, Direct Labs runs monthly specials.

This month the specials all concern blood fats (lipids) and the inflammation markers for cardiovascular health.

Some of these tests are a bit uncommon, like this one:

NMR LIPO Profile-Sept Test of the Month- $79 for the month of September

Fasting Required: Yes – 12 hours

Specimen: Blood

Results: 7-10 Business Days

Description: The NMR LipoProfile® test is an advanced cardiovascular diagnostic test that uses nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to uniquely provide rapid, simultaneous and direct measurement of LDL particle number and size of LDL particles, as well as direct measurement of HDL and VLDL subclasses. This detailed lipoprotein particle information allows clinicians to make more effective individualized treatment decisions than previously possible based on standard lipid panel testing. The atherosclerotic culprit is LDL particle number, not LDL cholesterol. The NMR LipoProfile test differentiates CHD risk in patients who may have similar cholesterol values, especially when the LDL cholesterol is at or near ATP III treatment goals.

But if you are being told that you have to take statin drugs for the rest of your life, this would be a test that can help you decide otherwise.  Because if your lipid particles are smaller, you have a greater risk for a cardiovascular incident than if they were larger. So knowing what the size range of your LDL cholesterol is, gives you the ability to change your treatment protocol.

I think $79 for this amount of information is a good value.

So if you want to get your own blood work run, feel free to order these tests on sale during September or peruse the vast offerings available year round.

I do get a very small commission if you use these links, feel free to type in the direct url if you would rather not have that happen.