Ohio physicians team up with online lab firm to provide low-cost blood tests

What started as a service to help area patients has expanded to benefit patients in 47 states.

By — Posted Sept. 8, 2010

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

The Summit County Medical Society in Akron, Ohio, is trying to make blood tests more affordable for uninsured and underinsured patients.

Initially, the effort was aimed at helping patients in northeast Ohio, but it has expanded -- with the aid of the Internet -- to benefit patients in 47 states. Through a link on the medical society's website, patients can preorder and pay for discounted blood tests at nearby labs. The service is being offered through a partnership with PrePaid Lab LLC, an Internet marketer of lab tests. The company is based in Avon Lake, Ohio.


Dr. Lefton

"For doctors, it's a nice thing, because you have something you can do now to get patients labs they can afford," said Doug Lefton, MD, a family physician in Fairlawn, Ohio, and the medical society's special projects coordinator. He worked at American Medical News from 1981 to 1987, last serving as assistant executive editor for news.

Dr. Lefton said he used to be frustrated when a patient couldn't afford a needed blood test. The out-of-pocket cost of some tests can be as much as 10 times what health insurers pay, he said. "The poor guy who doesn't have insurance -- he doesn't have a company negotiating on his behalf."

For example, a lipid panel with low-density lipoprotein/high-density lipoprotein ratio is $17.77 through the service. The same test is about $43.65 retail, and some labs charge as much as $147, he said.

About 100 to 150 tests a day are ordered through the website, said Tom Patton, chief executive officer of PrePaid Lab. People with insurance also can order tests through the medical society's website (link). Test results are faxed to the physician and e-mailed to the patient. Patients "get to be involved in their care, because they see the results electronically," Patton said.

Patient Doug Lento of Barberton, Ohio, said he was between jobs and didn't have health coverage when he used the service. "I wouldn't have been able to afford to have the tests done if I had to pay full price," he said.

Marie Odell of Hudson, Ohio, said she and her husband need regular blood tests because he has diabetes and they both have high cholesterol. They began using the service after losing their insurance. "It really has been a lifesaver for us," she said.

For patients in the Akron area, the medical society partners with physician group Pioneer Physicians Network, which offers low-cost blood tests to uninsured patients at its Pioneer Central Laboratory in Tallmadge, Ohio.

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story