Pregnancy tests are often needed to confirm a pregnancy and know when to make the necessary lifestyle changes based on the result. Verification can usually be done with an at-home pregnancy test, but the confirmation by a physician can be helpful to confirm the result of the at-home test.
One place where pregnancy tests can be performed is at your local urgent care or walk-in clinic. While these tests are often readily available, they can often be expensive. Through a $45 per month care membership with Mira, urgent care visits - including pregnancy tests - will only cost you $99. Sign up today to get your pregnancy test fast and affordably.
Cost of Pregnancy Tests
The cost of pregnancy tests varies widely depending on the type and location of the test. When considering the type of pregnancy test you are planning to get, it is important to remember that these factors can also play a role in the reliability of the results. At-home urine pregnancy tests often cost between $8-$15, over the counter.
If you are pregnant, your body will begin producing the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone, which is only produced during active pregnancy and is present in the blood and urine. Your hCG levels will be at their highest level in the morning and contribute to a more accurate test result. Consider this when taking an at-home test or scheduling an appointment with your doctor.
At-Home Urine Pregnancy Test
An at-home pregnancy test is easily the most accessible and most affordable option for verifying your pregnancy. This test is usually performed first and acts as a prerequisite for other, more accurate tests. At-home pregnancy tests can be purchased over-the-counter (OTC) and are sold as packs of tests. Before taking the at-home test, check the expiry date on the package to ensure you are getting the most accurate result.
These pregnancy tests often are affordable and cost between $8-$15 OTC. Many accuracy claims are deceptive and are only as accurate as described when taken further along in the pregnancy.
One study from the University of New Mexico, led by Laurence Cole, MD, found that the tests were not sensitive enough to accurately detect a pregnancy 1-2 days after a missed period. They found that OTC pregnancy testing was usually only accurate between 16%-80% of the time, depending on the brand of the test taken.
Risk of False-Positive Results: Urine Test
Several outside factors can influence your test results. False positives occur when your test produces positive results indicating pregnancy - when you are not actually pregnant. Some reasons that a false positive may result include:
- Taking a prescription (especially a fertility drug) that includes the hCG hormone such as - Pregnyl, A.P.L., Profasi, Chorex, Novarel, Ovidrel, or promethazine
- Hematuria (blood in urine) or proteinuria (protein in urine)
- Using an expired or damaged pregnancy test
- Taking diuretics
- Experiencing a chemical pregnancy
Risk of False-Negative Results: Urine Test
Other factors can affect the results of your OTC pregnancy test and produce false-negative results. False negatives occur when your test produces negative test results - indicating you are not pregnant- when, in fact, you are not pregnant. Some reasons for a false negative may include:
- Diluted urine, possibly from over-hydration - urine concentration is highest first thing in the morning.
- Performing the pregnancy test too soon
- Checking the results too soon
- Using a urine sample that is older than 15 minutes
If your test produced a negative result but still missed your period, you may want to receive further testing for result verification.
Physician Administered Urine Pregnancy Test
Once you have taken an OTC pregnancy test and have received the results, you may want to consider confirming the results - positive or negative - with your primary care physician or women’s health provider. A urine test at your provider will often be more accurate than an OTC urine test administered at home - up to 99% accuracy if performed correctly.
These tests vary in price and depend on the provider, but they often cost upwards of $100 even after insurance. You should always check the price of your test with your provider before seeking care.
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Blood Pregnancy Test
Blood tests are administered by a physician and are by far the most accurate type of pregnancy test. These tests measure the levels of the hCG hormone in your bloodstream. Blood tests cost around $49 on average, in addition to the office visit costs. The two types of blood tests are qualitative blood tests and quantitative blood tests.
Qualitative blood tests determine whether or not hCG is present in the blood. This will determine whether or not you are pregnant but not provide any further information. These tests are about as accurate as a physician-administered urine test.
Quantitative blood tests are even more accurate than qualitative tests and can detect the presence of the hCG hormone and determine the concentration of the hormone. The ability to determine the concentration of hCG can help the doctor determine how far along you are in the pregnancy if the qualitative results are positive.
The quantitative blood test is given a few times over a 48 hour period to determine the accuracy and fluctuation of the hCG hormone. These tests are also used along with ultrasound to diagnose an early pregnancy loss or determine whether you are pregnant with one or more children. Blood tests are also usually able to determine pregnancy before missing your period.
Risk of False-Positive Results: Blood Test
Blood tests have other innate risk factors that may influence the verification of the pregnancy that result in a false-positive result. These factors include:
- Presence of heterophile antibodies
- Having a recent blood or plasma transfusion
- Taking a prescription that contains the hCG hormone
- Having an Immunoglobulin A (IgA) deficiency
- Experiencing renal failure
- Having certain types of cancer
Risk of False Negative Results: Blood Test
Blood tests have other innate risk factors that may influence the verification of the pregnancy that result in a false-negative result. These factors include:
- Having a gestational trophoblastic disease
- Performing a blood test too early
When and Where to Get a Pregnancy Test
If you believe you are pregnant, you should wait approximately two weeks before getting tested to ensure you are receiving the most accurate result. When it comes time to get tested, it is important to know where to get tested. OTC tests are available from most pharmacies and grocery stores and are readily available and affordable.
If you want to verify your pregnancy further and with greater accuracy, you can get a urine or blood test at your primary care physician (PCP) or obstetrician and gynecologist (OB/GYN). While these tests will cost you money at your PCP, OB/GYN, or Planned Parenthood, you can get free pregnancy tests, prenatal care, and other services at your local pregnancy resource center (PRC). Local PRCs are meant to serve lower-income mothers who cannot afford testing at other locations.
Pregnancy Tests Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below we outline frequently asked questions when it comes to pregnancy tests.
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How do I interpret the results of my at-home pregnancy test?
Depending on the type of at-home test that you purchase, the testing stick may read “pregnancy” or “not pregnant.” More traditional (and often cheaper tests) will read a + or - indicating a positive (pregnant) or negative (not pregnant) result, respectively.
Can I get a short-term health insurance plan to help cover my pregnancy costs?
Short-term plans never cover pregnancy or maternal health costs. Short-term plans will also never cover pre-existing conditions. Some care memberships, such as Mira, may indirectly reduce the cost of some services administered at urgent care facilities.
What are the best insurance options for pregnant women?
Some insurance options for pregnant women may include employer-sponsored plans, Medicaid or CHIP, or supplemental insurance plans. Determining what benefits are offered under each plan can help you meet your individual prenatal and maternal health needs.
Knowing the cost and availability of pregnancy tests is critical for verifying your pregnancy and determining what your next step will be. If you cannot afford the prices of pregnancy testing, there are options available for you.
Other than free testing at PRC’s, becoming a member with Mira’s care membership can offer you discounts for pregnancy services that you receive at urgent care centers. Memberships are $45 per month and include $99 urgent care visits, up to 80% off prescriptions, and same-day lab tests. Sign up today to start coverage and get your pregnancy verified.
Gavin is a 4th Year student at the University of Virginia, studying Medical Anthropology, Ethics, & Care as well as Environmental Science. He is passionate about providing healthcare resources and proper education in order to promote life and health for all.