Medical insurance is often sought after to cover the big problems that come for our health. These are things like broken bones, operations, vaccines, and so on, and the policies even cover the everyday things, like check-ups and regular prescriptions. However, irregular and smaller scale items that are necessary to our health are often overlooked. These include tests for various diseases or infections done by medical professionals. Often, insurance companies may require you to necessitate why you need tests done or require you to pay for the test yourself. As such, people ask the questions about these tests, wondering whether they can or need to get them done. Like the TB test? Will my medical insurance cover it? Or should I just pay for it myself?
Table of contents
What is TB?
Before you learn if medical insurance can cover TB tests, learn more about its history.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial disease caused by the Mycobacterium Tuberculosis bacteria.
This disease spreads when one inhales tiny droplets that an infected person expels when they sneeze or cough.
It mainly affects the lungs, yet it can spread to other parts of the body, like the abdomen, bones, glands, and even the nervous system.
This disease can affect both adults and children and causes about 1.5 to 2 million deaths throughout the world annually.
In most people, a healthy immune system will kill the bacteria before it can spread, thus preventing infection.
Other times, the immune system is unable to kill the bacteria, but can stop it from spreading round the body.
In this situation, the person is not sick and is not infectious, but the TB will lay dormant in their body causing no symptoms.
This is known as Latent TB. Should the body fail to eventually kill it, and it breaks free from its containment, it will become Active TB at which point the patient will become sick and infectious to others.
It is curable in almost all cases, but the antibiotic treatment can be long, tiring, and leave a person in a weakened state.
The full course of antibiotics normally takes around 6 months to complete, and what you have to take depends on the TB you have.
Some forms of TB are antibiotic resistant, and so treatment may mean you are taking up to 6 different medications daily to fight the infection.
If you develop Pulmonary TB, you will be contagious to anyone not protected until the 3rd week of your treatment.
It is especially important to treat it in children, as it can affect their growth, school life, and development as a person.
It is common in areas where there are many people living in small urban spaces, such as areas in Asia, Africa, and India.
Many people who travel to these places may come across it and will need to get tested for it once they are home.
Why is a TB Test Necessary?
TB is a terrible disease to have and to catch. It is debilitating and life-threatening. It is a disease that spreads very quickly, is very hard to kill, and can kill people within a matter of days. That’s why so many ask if medical insurance cover TB tests.
Before the age of modern medicine, it was one of the big diseases that people thought you were going to catch no matter what and if you did, all you could do was pray it would not kill you.
Between the 17th and 18th centuries on the European continent, it is estimated that 25% of all deaths were related to TB or its various forms.
Testing for TB
Testing for Tuberculosis is absolutely necessary for your continued health.
If you have been near someone with TB, are in a region where TB is common, or have developed some of the symptoms, it is necessary to get tested for it.
The medical professional you go with will do a skin test or blood to test for the presence of the TB bacteria.
The skin test involves the medical professional injecting a small amount of a fluid called Tuberculin into the bottom part of the arm, on your forearm, basically.
This forms a tiny bump. The patient then must leave for 48 to 72 hours. They must try not to interfere with the bump.
After that time, the patient needs to return to the professional and have the bump measured.
Depending on how the bump has developed – the size of the tough, raised area of the skin or the swelling – the professional can tell whether you have TB or not.
The blood test is a simple drawing of your blood into a sterile vial. Later, it will be sent off to a lab for examination.
If you have a positive result, then you have TB. If you have a negative result, you do not have TB. Normally, this test takes a day or two for the results to be concluded.
Will my Medical Insurance Cover a TB Test?
This largely depends on the insurance provider, as well as the policy you have chosen. But generally, most medical insurance will cover TB tests.
If you have Medicare, the test is completely covered. No cost-sharing obligations as dictated by the US preventative service’s task force.
For private insurers, most insurance policies will cover the test, but some will not. It is best to call your provider and ask if it will cover the test.
If you are not certain if the test is necessary, you can ask your medical professional if it is recommended.
How Much is a TB Test without Insurance?
Like many other tests, there is no set price for the TB test. This will depend on the method used to analyze the sample. The basic blood and skin test will cost around $10 to $65.
The price can increase if the sample requires more than one analysis. If you have a positive test result and require a follow-up test, it will cost a little more.
However, it should be noted you can get this test done in most medical institutions: a doctor’s office, health department, even a pharmacy like CVS.
Most medical insurances will cover TB tests.The test is incredibly important, especially if you have been exposed to the disease. TB is extremely debilitating. Go get tested rather than suffer a few months of agony and potentially death.
Frequently Asked Questions
This program covers outpatient TB-related services for persons who are TB-infected and eligible under aid code 7H. Recipients with aid code 7H will receive TB-related services at a zero Share of Cost.
Purchase a TB Skin Test today on MDsave. Costs range from $29 to $49. Those on high deductible health plans or without insurance can save when they buy their procedure upfront through MDsave. Read more about how MDsave works.
Where to get tuberculosis testing. Walgreens offers TB testing at select locations. Go to Walgreens.com or use the Walgreens App and select Find Care to find a site near you. TB Control Offices located in various cities, states and territories, and primary and urgent care clinics in your area may also offer TB testing.