On the Rise or Decline? Private Medical Testing in America

Before 1993, consumers wishing to participate in their own healthcare and proactively get medical testing to keep apprised of their health had very little options:  speak with your physician about ordering tests that insurance was unlikely to cover, go to an overcrowded health clinic that did not order many testing options, or go to a hospital and convince them that you required emergency testing for a condition that you had no signs nor symptoms.  As one can imagine, none of these options proved very viable.  It was finally in 1993, with the birth of online medical testing, that the door was finally opened.

Initially, the first companies to offer online medical testing were those specializing in STD testing.  As the fear of AIDs rapidly spread through the community, and with many common STDs on the rise, an annual medical physical no longer seemed adequate to those concerned about hidden conditions.  As an alternative, consumers began regularly seeking STD and HIV testing through companies that offered this service affordably, rapidly, and anonymously.   While most insurance companies required a doctor’s visit and visible symptoms in order to approve testing, consumers could instead search online to find any one of thousands of completely confidential std testing centers.  The cost for this testing were often times less than that of a doctor’s visit and their own lab fee.

The number of individuals searching for such private medical testing are now estimated in the tens of thousands each year, and those figures don’t look to be declining any time soon.   Accessibility is not the only reason this manner of testing is growing:  medical technologies, such as DNA testing, are also rapidly increasing and are offering consumers more options than ever before.   Paternity testing, cancer screening, heart screening, and other health related tests are now offered openly to the public.  More than at any time in history, people now have the ability to assess their own predisposition for many life threatening conditions that can show up later in life.

While some are speculating that current health care legislation may do away with the need for private medical testing , most industry experts disagree.  Cost containment is going to be absolutely necessary to keep a nation’s medical costs from skyrocketing, so the level of testing offered by future medical plans might actually be decreasing, instead of increasing.  With a continued focus on health and self advocacy, it looks like private medical testing will be an invaluable  component of any of the proposed new healthcare regulations.

Regardless of the manner in which you get tested, experts agree that  it’s important that you do.  Early detection is critical for any type of medical condition, and waiting until you are showing signs or symptoms may be too late.

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