Lipid Panel Tests: Procedure, Costs, & Where to Get
A lipid panel is a type of blood test that measures fats and fatty substances in your body. According to Mira’s research, the out-of-pocket cost of a lipid panel can range from $200 to $843 without insurance and $19 with private insurance or Medicare. Of course, the price you pay out-of-pocket may exceed this cost depending on a number of factors.
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How Does a Lipid Panel Work
Using a sample of your blood, lipid panels determine the levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and low-density lipoprotein (LPL) in your body. It is important to measure the number of lipids since they are an important part of cell function and help keep your body working normally.
When lipid levels are outside of the normal range (e.g. high cholesterol), they may lead to life-threatening illnesses, such as coronary artery disease (CAD), heart attack, or stroke. Therefore, when your doctor orders a lipid panel, it is not always indicative of an underlying ailment. Most often, lipid panels are used as part of regular health examinations to prevent, check on, or diagnose possible medical conditions.
Certain lipid panels may require specific instructions prior to blood withdrawal. For instance, many lipid panels require you to refrain from eating or drinking anything except water for at least 9 to 12 hours before your test. In addition, some may require you to avoid drinking alcohol or exercising strenuously prior to testing. In these cases, you should follow your doctor’s instructions.
Based on the results of your test, your doctor will recommend the best course of treatment. If indeed your doctor does find a lipid disorder based on the results of your lipid panel, treatment may be started to help manage your blood lipid levels.
Normal Ranges for a Lipid Panel
Tests results will vary according to several factors including age, gender, health history, and testing method. Accordingly, the optimum range for lipid panels will also vary from individual to individual. Results are given in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Outlined below are the normal ranges for a lipid panel.
Normal Ranges for Lipid Panels
|Category||Acceptable Range for Adults|
|Total Cholesterol||Less than 200mg/dL|
|LDL Cholesterol (Bad Cholesterol)||Less than 100mg/dL|
|Triglycerides||Less than 150mg/dL|
|HDL Cholesterol (Good Cholesterol)||Above 40mg/dL|
Factors that Can Affect Your Lipid Panel Results
Several factors may influence the results of your lipid panel. These results can be broken down into short-term influences and long-term influences.
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There are a number of factors that influence the results of your lipid panel immediately before your test. These factors are highlighted below and broken out to better understand each one individually.
- Fasting: Recommended for 9 to 12 hours prior to testing so that the food you eat does not influence triglyceride and LDL levels measured in the lipid panel
- Strenuous Exercise: This can cause triglycerides and LDL to decrease and HDL to increase; you should avoid strenuous exercise 24 hours before your lipids are tested
- High Stress: Results in up to a 10% decrease in HDL levels
- Sitting: Can reduce triglycerides as much as 10% if sitting for 15 to 20 minutes after standing
- Infections and Inflammations: Can cause triglyceride levels to increase and total cholesterol and HDL levels to decrease
- Heart Attack or Stroke: If occurred in the past three months, can cause the total cholesterol and LDL levels to decrease; wait at least three months before testing lipids after a heart attack or stroke
There are several consistent and lifestyle factors that influence the result of your lipid panel. These are also broken out below to better understand each and how they may impact you.
- Eating Habits: Can significantly change lipid profile results; a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables can improve lipid results; significant changes in diet can skew results for 3 to 6 months after a dietary change
- Regular Exercise: Can contribute to lower LDL and triglycerides
- Smoking: Can decrease HDL as much as 13%
- Alcohol Consumption: Can reduce LDL and HDL levels and increase triglyceride levels
- Diabetes and Obesity: Can indicate a high risk of coronary heart disease; associated with higher triglyceride levels, lower HDL levels, and higher total cholesterol
- Weight Fluctuations: Can result in lipid variations
Lifestyle Habits to Lower Lipid Levels
Oftentimes, changes in lifestyle can help you lower your cholesterol levels. Outlined below are several options to help you maintain a healthy cholesterol level:
- Avoid saturated fats and trans fats in your diet
- Stick to foods that have “No Cholesterol” or “Low Cholesterol” labels
- Regular aerobic exercise
- Quit smoking
- Weight loss
Again, your results and target values will depend on your age and health. Therefore, based on your results and medical history, your doctor will recommend lifestyle changes or medications to lower your cholesterol
How Much a Lipid Panel Costs
The price of a lipid panel depends on several factors, including, but not limited to: insurance status, the type of healthcare facility where you undergo testing, and where you are in the United States. We break down the typical costs that may relate to your personal situation below.
Cost of Lipid Panels Without Insurance
Mira’s research indicates that a lipid panel can usually cost anywhere between $200-$843 without insurance. The median price of lipid panels is approximately $220 without insurance. In addition, there exists high variability across healthcare locations, with lipid panels costing as much as $10,000 in some areas of the country.
Since doctors seldom order lipid panels alone, you can expect to pay more out of pocket for other blood tests that you may receive. In addition to the charges for the blood tests themselves, you can expect to pay facility fees and other extra fees that pay the phlebotomist. Clinics and hospitals often charge these fees to cover the costs of maintaining the facility. These fees can range from $15 to hundreds of dollars depending on the exact service that you receive. An easy way to avoid these fees is to ask ahead of time whether or not the facility you want to receive care at will charge facility fees.
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Cost of Lipid Panels With Private Insurance or Medicare
These costs will depend greatly on the coverage of your insurance but the total cost will be the cost without insurance minus whatever your carrier covers. Many insurance plans won’t cover anything if you haven’t met your deductible. Again, you should expect to pay facility fees and other extra fees that pay the phlebotomist. Many insurance plans also do not cover facility fees or only cover a portion. For more information, you should ask your benefits administrator whether you have to pay for facility fees out-of-pocket.
Cost of Hospital Lipid Panels
Hospital lipid panels tend to be more expensive than ones offered by your primary care provider (PCP) or clinic. Mira’s research indicates that the price for a lipid panel done in a hospital can range dramatically, fluctuating between $40 to $225 dollars on average. Again, these prices reflect an average — the exact price you pay can exceed this cost depending on your hospital and where you are in the United States.
Cost of Clinic Lipid Panels
Lipid panels provided by clinics or urgent care centers tend to be less expensive than those offered at hospitals. Research indicates that prices for lipid panels at these locations can range from $45 to $100 with insurance.
Cost of a Lipid Panel with Alternative Coverage
Mira offers alternative health coverage through a membership program that can help you dramatically reduce your overall healthcare costs. Mira’s lab panel has some of the most affordable blood tests on the market. You can access a lipid panel for just $25, if you’re a member. That is far cheaper than the alternatives, and you will also have the option to purchase a basic health panel, STD tests, A1C tests, and Vitamin D tests. Get tested today and have your results by tomorrow.
Where Can I Get a Lipid Panel
Lipid panels are offered at a variety of healthcare locations. Outlined below are several options.
- Primary Care Provider (PCP)
- Community Health Centers
- Urgent Care Clinics
- Some Pharmacies
- Mira’s Lab Panel
Doctors frequently order blood tests for their patients; however, in several states, it is legal to order blood tests without consulting a doctor. When in doubt, it is best to consult your physician regarding your options.
If you lack a primary care provider, Mira can help. Join today and access a primary care physician who can see you and determine if you need lab tests or directly access the blood work you need using Mira’s lab panel.
Lipid panels are expensive regardless of whether you are insured or not. With many doctors suggesting annual lipid panels, the price of testing can quickly become unmanageable. At the same time, skipping a lipid panel because you can’t afford it can be detrimental to your health, leading to more health problems in the long run and ultimately costing you more out-of-pocket.
Sign up for Mira and begin accessing our lab panel today. With urgent care visits, primary care visits, lab panels, and discounted prescription medication for as little as $45 per month and $99 per visit. Learn more about how Mira can help you simplify your health coverage.
Spencer is a Public Health & Biology undergraduate student at New York University.