COVID-19 Rapid Tests
We now have the Abbott ID Now COVID-19 rapid tests available in our office! This test gives results in as little as 15 minutes. Most rapid tests out there are antigen tests, which are far less reliable than PCR tests that are sent to a commercial laboratory. But our test is not an antigen test - it is similar to PCR and thus is nearly as accurate. If someone is positive on a PCR and in the first week of their illness, there is a 95% chance they will be positive on our test, meaning there will be a few cases that are missed but not many. The tradeoff is to have test results available the same day and a less painful specimen collection (front of the nose vs a nasopharyngeal swab that goes all the way back) vs somewhat more reliable results. However, there are some situations where we cannot use this test or we would not recommend it. Most importanly the test is only approved for people who have symptoms and are in their first 7 days of illness. So we can't use this to test people who have been exposed but are asymptomatic or for screening people before travel or events. Unfortunately, we also cannot use it for people who are insured by United Healthcare or any of their affiliated plans (this includes UMR, Golden Rule, and GEHA plans administered by United). United Healthcare has decided to pay less than half of what it costs us to run these tests. ALL other commercial health plans pay an amount at least equal to our cost. Considering that we paid several thousand dollars to purchase the machine, we cannot afford to lose more money every time we run the test on a United patient. We apologize for this inconvenience but United has made it clear that they will not change their payment and therefore that they do not value your ability to get a quick result on this test. See this New York Times article for more details. The cost to those who want to pay out of pocket for this test is $50. Feel free to contact us for more details.