A very common question we are getting at Midwest Minor Medical is about COVID Testing. Do we offer the PCR Test
or the Antibody Test?
There are several sources that explain the available tests and the pro's and con's of both. We made a decision that we would offer all of the tests that help the patient combat the COVID Infection. As of early November, there is only one test that diagnosis an active viral infection, the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. This is the most acurate test, has the least amount of false positives and now the laboratories are able to provide results in about 24 hours from the time they recieve the sample.
Other tests like the Antigen Test or the Antibody Test have their place in fighting the spread of COVID, yet our medical staff found those tests unreliable in determining if a patient has an active infection.
What about the costs? The PCR test is the most expensive at $150 compared to $60-$80 for the Antigen and Antibody tests. Ultimately what matters is the reason you want the test. If you are trying to determine if you are currently infected and need to go into quaranteen, the PCR test is the one you want. If you are thinking maybe you already had a mild case of COVID and want to test for markers of past exposure, then the Antigen & Antibody are the better choices.
Whe the CARES Act was passed earlier this year it stated that if a medical provider suspects a patient may have the active virus through symptoms or exposure to someone who had COVID and orders the PCR Test, then the patient's insurance company must pay 100% of the $150 cost of the PCR test. That transaction takes place between the laboratory and the insurance company.
If someone wants needs a test to show they are virus fee in order to return to work, the CARES Act prohibits the insurance company from paying for the test. In that case, the patient would pay the $150 at the time we swabbed their nose. Wouldn't the $60 test be a cheaper altenative? Not if you need to show that you no longer have the active virus in your system. The PCR test is the gold standard for determining if you are infected at the moment the sample is taken.