The Quantiferon TB Gold test is the preferred blood test for tuberculosis (TB) screening today. However, with rising healthcare costs, many patients wonder – how much does the Quantiferon TB Gold test cost?
In this extensive guide, we dive deep into the pricing factors, real-world costs, and money-saving tips for this important medical test.
- Quantiferon TB test costs range from $80 – $200+ without insurance
- Real-world pricing also depends on location, provider, fees
- Use in-network providers and maximize insurance to reduce out-of-pocket costs
- Compare costs between local labs and clinics, ask for discounts
- Public health programs assist those unable to afford testing
How Much Does a Quantiferon TB Gold Test Cost?
So how much does the Quantiferon TB Gold test cost? Let’s break down what goes into the pricing.
Base Price Range
On average, you can expect to pay somewhere between $80 to $200 for the basic Quantiferon TB Gold test without insurance. However, the final price can vary significantly based on factors we’ll explore in this article.
To budget for this test, it’s wise to estimate on the higher end, around $200, to account for additional potential fees. In major metropolitan areas, base prices over $200 are also common.
The overall price of Quantiferon TB testing comprises several itemized costs:
- Lab test fee – This base fee covers the actual Quantiferon lab test kit, blood analysis, and result reporting. Prices start around $80 but often exceed $150.
- Blood draw fee – Having blood drawn will incur an additional fee, often $10-$25. This may be waived if done during a doctor’s visit.
- Office visit fee – Expect to pay a standard office visit fee if your doctor orders the test during an appointment. Often $30-$75 depending on visit type.
- Miscellaneous fees – Separate fees can apply for nurse services, blood handling, or administrative processes associated with testing. These vary.
- Insurance adjustments – Insured patients will pay negotiated test prices usually lower than standard lab rates.
Itemized billing allows labs to charge well over $200 for Quantiferon testing, sometimes over $300 when all separate fees are added up. Ask for an itemized bill to better understand the costs.
Factors That Increase the Test Price
Several factors can influence the Quantiferon TB test price, causing costs to be higher than average:
- Geographic location – Prices in major metro areas like New York City and San Francisco often exceed rural areas.
- Hospital vs private labs – Large hospital labs tend to charge more than small independent labs.
- Added rush fees – Requesting expedited 24-hour results can add $50 or more.
- Multiple panels – Running additional lab tests on the blood sample adds incremental costs.
- Out-of-network labs – Using a non-preferred lab leads to higher patient responsibility.
- No insurance – Uninsured patients pay more overall compared to insured negotiated rates.
To minimize costs, choose an in-network provider in a lower-cost region when possible. Decline rush processing unless urgently needed.
Real-World Pricing Examples
To understand real Quantiferon TB test costs, here are sample prices from actual healthcare providers:
- Primary care clinic (Los Angeles, CA) – $256 total price comprising a $150 Quantiferon test fee, $25 blood draw fee, and $81 office visit fee.
- Travel clinic (Dallas, TX) – $219 total price covering a $140 Quantiferon test, $39 blood draw, and $40 administrative fees.
- Independent lab (Rochester, NY) – $135 total price for Quantiferon test. No additional fees.
- Urgent care (Miami, FL) – $395 total price including Quantiferon test ($165), office visit ($125), and blood draw ($35) fees plus a $70 urgent care premium.
This sampling illustrates how real-world pricing can hit both ends of the spectrum from $100 to $400 depending on provider type and location.
What is the Quantiferon Test?
The Quantiferon TB Gold blood test is a modern tuberculosis screening tool used to detect latent TB infection. This test offers greater accuracy and convenience compared to the old tuberculin skin test.
The Quantiferon test works by measuring the immune system’s response to TB bacteria. A lab technician will draw a vial of the patient’s blood and mix it with TB peptide antigens. If the white blood cells recognize the TB antigens, they release interferon-gamma, indicating the body’s immune response against tuberculosis.
Advantages of the Quantiferon blood test include:
- Higher specificity – Less chance of false positives compared to skin testing
- Faster results – Get accurate diagnosis within 24 hours rather than 2+ doctor visits for skin test reading
- Single patient visit – No need to return for skin test interpretation
With improved accuracy and speed, the Quantiferon TB Gold test has become the frontline choice for TB screening today. It is primarily used to test for latent TB infection in higher-risk populations such as healthcare workers, individuals from endemic regions, or those with compromised immune systems.
What is Included in the Quantiferon Test?
The basic Quantiferon TB Gold test includes:
- Quantiferon TB Gold Plus lab testing kit
- Processing and analysis of blood sample
- Evaluation for an immune response indicating TB infection
- Report on presence/absence of TB bacteria antigens
No additional exams or procedures are directly included beyond the Quantiferon blood test itself. Separate charges apply for medical visits, blood draws, or additional lab work.
However, some expanded versions of Quantiferon testing offer more:
- QuantiFERON-TB Gold Plus – Tests for CD8 cell immunity against TB for $50-$100 more
- QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube – Includes negative control tube at $20-$50 higher price
- QuantiFERON-TB Gold Plus for Travel – Bundle with other travel-related blood tests like Hepatitis A/B, HIV, etc.
Discuss the appropriate version with your healthcare provider. Basic Quantiferon Gold often suffices for general screening.
Quantiferon Test Procedure
Undergoing Quantiferon TB testing involves a simple process:
- Blood Draw – A phlebotomist will draw 1 ml of whole blood, usually from the arm. This takes only a few minutes.
- Incubation – The lab divides blood into four tubes. One contains TB antigens to stimulate immune response. Others serve as controls. Tubes incubate overnight.
- Analysis – Lab machines detect any interferon-gamma released, signaling TB bacteria presence. Results within 24 hours.
- Results – The lab reports Quantiferon results to the ordering physician. May also be viewed via a patient portal.
The streamlined Quantiferon process provides results the next day. No need to return for interpretation like with the tuberculin skin test. This makes it more convenient.
Understanding Your Test Results
Quantiferon TB test results will indicate one of three outcomes:
- Positive – TB antigens detected. Indicates likely latent or active TB infection. Follow-up testing is needed.
- Negative – No measurable immune response. No TB infection was detected.
- Indeterminate – Ambiguous results. A retest may be required for confirmation.
Discuss your results with the ordering physician. Positive or ambiguous findings warrant follow-up chest imaging and evaluation to confirm TB status.
Early detection via Quantiferon allows prompt treatment if active TB is found. This minimizes the risk of transmission and improves outcomes.
Health Insurance Coverage
For insured patients, most major health plans cover the Quantiferon TB Gold test with prior authorization:
- Medicare – Part B covers the test for patients at risk when medically necessary.
- Medicaid – Fully covered for high-risk Medicaid recipients per state regulations.
- Private insurance – Aetna, Cigna, UnitedHealthcare, and others cover the test for adults 18-64 meeting CDC guidelines.
- Employee health – Often covered for healthcare workers under occupational health.
Coverage levels range from 60% to 100% after meeting your policy’s annual deductible. Out-of-pocket costs may apply if subject to coinsurance.
Maximizing Insurance Benefits
To get the maximum insurance benefits for Quantiferon testing:
- Verify coverage – Call in advance to confirm the test is covered and if prior approval is needed.
- Use in-network labs – This helps avoid costly out-of-network fees that minimally count toward deductible/out-of-pocket maximums.
- Get preauthorization – If required by your plan, have your doctor request approval ahead of time.
- Ask about cash prices – Uninsured patients can sometimes negotiate better rates when paying cash upfront.
- Appeal denials – If coverage is denied, appeal with help from your doctor explaining medical necessity.
With proper planning using in-network providers, insured patients can often get Quantiferon TB testing for their policy’s standard lab cost-share, for example a $20 copay.
Paying for the Test Without Insurance
For uninsured patients, the Quantiferon TB Gold test becomes more expensive – often $200 or more in total. Here are some tips to reduce costs when self-paying:
- Use independent labs – They tend to offer lower cash pay rates compared to big hospitals.
- Don’t overpay – Shop around and compare costs between area providers.
- Ask for discounts – Uninsured patients can request discounted cash prices from some labs.
- Use payment plans – Inquire if labs offer installment plans to split costs interest-free over time.
- Get just the test – Decline extras like office visits or rush fees to minimize ancillary costs.
- Apply for assistance – Local health departments or clinics may provide free or sliding scale testing.
With smart shopping, uninsured patients can sometimes find Quantiferon testing for $100-150 even without benefits.
Public Health Assistance Options
For those who can’t afford Quantiferon TB testing, public health programs exist to help:
Every county has a health department offering essential services. Many provide:
- Free or discounted TB tests for uninsured residents
- Testing for high-risk groups like migrants, homeless
Visit your local health department or search “[YourCounty] Health Department TB Testing” to find nearby options.
TB Control Programs
State and county TB control programs assist those affected by TB. Services may include:
- Free testing, treatment, x-rays
- Support services like translation, transportation
- Case management
Find your state TB control program via the CDC Division of Tuberculosis Elimination.
Non-profit clinics often serve lower-income groups. Look for community health centers offering:
- Sliding scale fees based on income
- Free care for qualifying incomes
Use the HHS Community Health Center finder to locate clinics providing affordable Quantiferon testing.
Check if you qualify for any programs. Those in need have options for low or no-cost TB screening.
Choosing Where to Get Tested
There are many options for where to get Quantiferon TB testing:
- Primary care doctor – Your main physician can order the test during a visit.
- Specialist office – Doctors like pulmonologists or infectious disease specialists may provide the test.
- Urgent care – Offers rapid testing during TB symptom screening.
- Travel clinic – Recommended for international travel medical requirements.
- Hospital lab – Outpatient draw stations perform the test.
- Independent lab – Quest, LabCorp, and smaller labs all offer the test.
- Health department – County health departments test high-risk clients.
Consider convenience, cost, and insurance coverage when choosing where to get tested. In-network independent labs are often the most affordable option for insured patients.
Uninsured patients can check community clinics or health departments first, before comparing costs at private labs.
Questions about Quantiferon TB Testing
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about the Quantiferon TB Gold test:
How often do I need the test?
For low-risk individuals, one baseline test is recommended. Those with ongoing TB exposure may need annual or bi-annual re-testing. Discuss optimal frequency with your doctor.
What if testing is required for work/travel?
Many employers and countries require TB testing for clearance purposes. In these cases, cover the cost of mandatory Quantiferon testing and pursue reimbursement from your employer, airline, or travel insurance provider as applicable.
How long for results?
Quantiferon results are available within 24 hours after blood is drawn. The lab reports results to the ordering physician. Some also make results available via online patient portal.
Can I get results without a doctor?
A physician order is required for testing. However, you can request results be shared directly with you as well. Check if your lab has a patient portal to view results.
Where is testing available?
Quantiferon TB Gold testing is widely available at doctor’s offices, labs, hospitals, and clinics. Contact your preferred provider to verify if they offer the test.
The Value of the Test
While no medical test is inexpensive today, the Quantiferon TB Gold test provides high value:
- Accurate, convenient detection of latent TB infection
- Allows early treatment to prevent TB from spreading
- Averts serious health complications and hospital bills
For those at risk of tuberculosis, the benefits of prompt detection and care facilitated by Quantiferon testing outweigh the cost burdens. Get the right test at a reasonable price to safeguard your health.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does QuantiFERON TB Gold Plus cost?
On average, the QuantiFERON Gold Plus test costs between $150-250. The “Plus” version tests for additional TB strains but is similarly priced.
How much does the QFT Plus test cost?
As a brand name for QuantiFERON Gold Plus, the QFT Plus test costs about $200 on average when not covered by insurance. Discount programs can reduce the test cost to $50-100 for qualified applicants.
Should QuantiFERON gold test be done yearly?
For most patients, yearly QuantiFERON TB testing is not necessary. Guidelines recommend testing high-risk individuals at regular intervals, such as healthcare workers. Talk to your doctor about appropriate testing frequency.