Bypass the Doctor and Go Straight to the Lab
NEWSCHIEF -- While Washington is deep in the throes of trying to overhaul the nation's health-care system, another development is fast gathering momentum that shows the lawmakers in many ways are pursuing a moving target.
A growing number of Americans are bypassing doctors and going directly to online and storefront labs for diagnostic testing. Most often they pay for these tests out of their own pocket. The results may persuade the consumer to pursue the matter further with a personal physician but, in any case, the consumer is in charge of who sees the results.
The name of one fast-growing chain of walk-in labs encapsulates the field's business model, Any Lab Test Now. The company says it can generally have testing results within 24 hours and at a cost that is as much as 80% less than going through a doctor. The lab franchises offer up to 1,500 tests, from a simple cholesterol check to more sophisticated packages of tests that address complex medical issues.
The medical profession views this development with some skepticism, fearing that consumers will order the wrong kinds of tests or misdiagnose the results. Major physicians organizations like the American Medical Association have cautioned against any kind of clinical or genetic testing done without a doctor's consultation. There is no federal oversight over medical testing, other than requiring that the labs that do the actual testing for the storefronts be properly certified. State regulations vary widely. As so often happens, the consumers seem to be far out in front of the lawmakers and regulators.
From the Any Lab Test Now website:
MP: Another affordable, convenient market-based solution to rising health care costs and an alternative to a government overhaul of the health care system.
HT: John Goodman