Insurance Conflicts Create Cost Issues for Patients Needing STI Testing

With the incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) growing, patients are exploring their options for testing. While some insurance companies cover the cost, a large percentage of the population doesn’t have coverage. With the current move to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, the situation is likely to become even more complex. That means individuals who actually need the testing may not have access to affordable testing services.

In a recent Mic article, access to free testing centers was discussed, and those centers will provide access for some individuals. However, those living in remote areas or who cannot easily access a free testing center may not be able to confirm the presence or absence of an STI. That means those individuals may well pose a health threat to themselves and others they have relationships with.

One of the common centers for free or low-cost testing has been Planned Parenthood, but the current Congress is also threatening to cut funding for the organization, meaning that source may also be unavailable in the future. With medical costs soaring, it’s likely the current average cost for testing will also increase quickly, making the loss of access to Planned Parenthood testing even more important. That means patients may have few alternatives for STI testing in the future.

Home testing is a possibility, but the reliability of the tests has been questionable. Patients may mishandle the test kits or contaminate them before mailing them to the testing company. Of course, any test is likely better than none, but low-income patients really need the availability of free or low-cost testing to be sure they’re getting accurate results.

Of course, HIV testing is still a crucial element of any screening protocol. Those testing positive for HIV require medical intervention and must take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. Again, tests are available, but they are not inexpensive, suggesting those with the greatest need may not have ready access to quality testing.

Since STIs present a clear health threat, easy access to free or low-cost testing is generally regarded as the best way to reduce the overall risks to the general population. However, patients today are encountering significant roadblocks when it comes to accessing the care they need. Contacting a nearby clinic for advice is strongly recommended for anyone needing testing.