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What is a Diabetes Screening Test & How Much it Costs

Jacqueline Slobin28 May 2021

What is a Diabetes Screening Test & How Much it Costs

There are several tests that can be done to screen for type 2 diabetes that includes an A1C, random blood sugar test, fasting blood sugar test, and oral glucose tolerance test. All of these tests help to detect when your blood glucose levels are too high, which can indicate impaired glucose regulation in the body. 

The price of diabetes screening can range greatly depending on where you get tested. With a Mira membership, the cost of an A1C test is only $19. Mira members also get access to another lab testing, urgent care, and prescriptions at a low cost. Sign up today and order your screening.

Type 2 Diabetes and Screening Test 

Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes, is a condition that occurs when the body’s regulation of glucose is impaired. Individuals who have type 2 diabetes do not have sufficient insulin production and the cells in your body become less sensitive to insulin production, resulting in an abnormally high level of glucose in the blood. 

In addition, some individuals may be diagnosed with prediabetes. Individuals with prediabetes have high blood sugar levels that will likely develop into diabetes without lifestyle changes or interventions. 

It is very important to screen for and treat type 2 diabetes, as unmanaged diabetes can result in many health complications. Some health conditions caused by type 2 diabetes include heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, kidney disease, eye damage, and sleep apnea. 

There are several blood tests that can be used to screen for type two diabetes, which includes the A1C, random blood sugar test, fasting blood sugar test, and oral glucose tolerance test. 

  • A1C: The glycated hemoglobin test, or A1C, tests for your average blood glucose levels over the past couple of months. An A1C below 5.7% is considered normal, a result between 5.7% and 6.4% is indicative of pre-diabetes, and a value above 6.4% generally indicates diabetes. There are some conditions, such as chronic blood loss or hemolytic anemia, that may result in inaccurate A1C levels. Therefore, in some cases, your health care provider may decide to run additional tests to diagnose type 2 diabetes.
  • Random blood sugar test: This test is done without fasting before and indicates your blood glucose level at the time of your test. Random blood sugar levels above 200 mg/dL are indicative of type 2 diabetes.
  • Fasting blood sugar test: A fasting blood sugar test is done after fasting, or not eating, overnight. A fasting blood sugar level below 100mg/dL is considered normal, a value between 100 mg/dL and 125 mg/dL indicates prediabetes, and a value above 125 mg/dL is diagnosed as diabetes.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test: Oral glucose tolerance tests are not as common as the other three tests, but can also be used to diagnose type 2 diabetes. For this test, you will usually be instructed to fast overnight and will have your fasting blood sugar level measured. Then you will drink a beverage that has a lot of glucose in it and have your blood glucose measured one and two hours after consuming the drink. A normal blood sugar level from a glucose tolerance test is less than 140 mg/dL, levels between 140 mg/dL and 199 mg/dL indicate prediabetes, while levels above 200 mg/dL indicate diabetes.

Below are the standard values used to diagnose prediabetes and diabetes using the four tests explained above. However, it is important to discuss your results with your health care provider so that your glucose levels can be interpreted while considering other aspects of your health, such as pre-existing conditions, medications, and risk factors for diabetes. Information in the table below was adapted from the Centers for Disease Control. 

Blood Glucose Level Results 

TestNormal LevelsPrediabetesDiabetes
A1C Testless than 5.7%5.7 – 6.4%6.5% or greater
Random Blood Glucose TestN/AN/A200 mg/dL or greater
Fasting Blood Glucose Test99 mg/dL or lower100 – 125 mg/dL126 mg/dL or greater
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test140 mg/dL or lower140 – 199 mg/dL200 mg/dL or greater

Diabetes Screening Cost Without Insurance 

The cost of diabetes screening depends on several factors, including where you get tested, what tests you receive, and your insurance status. Generally, the cost of each test to screen for diabetes falls between $23 and $67 if paying without insurance. However, you may also need to pay a visit fee to get tested that generally ranges from $100-$200. In some cases, your provider may only think it is necessary to get one test, while in other situations your provider may suggest getting multiple tests. 

You have several options regarding where you can get tested. These options include pharmacies, laboratory facilities, at-home tests, urgent care facilities, doctor’s offices, and hospitals. Below are the prices of tests at some locations that offer diabetes screening. 

  • Pharmacies: Some pharmacies offer diabetes screening tests. For example, CVS Pharmacy Minute Clinic offers a fasting blood glucose test to screen for diabetes for $59-$69 without insurance.
  • Laboratory facilities: Laboratory facilities, such as Labcorp and Quest Diagnostics, offer several tests to screen for diabetes as well. Each test typically ranges from around $25 to $48.
  • Mira: With a Mira membership, you can get your A1C levels checked for only $19.00. Members also get other lab tests for discounted rates, such as lipid panels, health panels and STD panels.
  • At-home lab tests: There are several companies that offer at-home lab tests, including tests that screen for diabetes. Pixel by Labcorp offers the A1C test for $33 and LetsGetChecked offers the A1C test for $49. You can also buy an at-home A1C test kit from CVS for $43. Note that you will need to conduct these tests by yourself without the help of a professional.
  • Urgent care and doctor’s offices: Getting screened for diabetes will likely be more expensive at urgent care facilities and doctor’s offices compared to the previous options. You will likely be charged a visit fee, typically $100-$200, and will need to pay for the cost of the tests. However, getting these tests at urgent care or doctor’s office may be helpful, as your health care provider can help you make a treatment plan or prescribe medication if your results are abnormal.
  • Hospitals: If you are not feeling sick and would like to get a routine test, going to a hospital will most likely be the most expensive option. If you would like to get screened for type 2 diabetes, urgent care facilities and doctor’s offices will be much more affordable in most cases. However, if you are experiencing a life-threatening situation or emergency, you should always call 911 and go to your nearest emergency room.

Diabetes Screening Test Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Should I get screened for type 2 diabetes? 

According to Mayo Clinic the American Diabetes Association, the following people should get screened for type 2 diabetes: 

  • All adults over the age of 45, on a 3-year basis
  • Women who had gestational diabetes
  • Anyone who has a diagnosis of prediabetes
  • People younger than 45 who have any risk factors for diabetes. Risk factors include, but are not limited to, family history of diabetes, overweight, physically inactive, hypertension, low HDL levels, high triglyceride levels, polycystic ovary syndrome, or being of a certain race or ethnicity.

It is important to note that the appropriate time to get screened differs for each person. Therefore, it is important to consult your health care provider and get recommendations based on your medical history. 

How can I assess my risk for type 2 diabetes? 

There are several ways that you can assess your risk for type 2 diabetes. The International Diabetes Federation and other websites have online risk assessment quizzes that help you assess your personal risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  

Some factors that may put you at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes are listed below. If several of these risk factors apply to you, consider speaking with a doctor or getting an A1C test. 

  • Age
  • High Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Physical inactivity
  • Imbalanced diet
  • High blood pressure
  • History of high blood glucose
  • Family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Low HDL cholesterol levels and high triglyceride levels

Can type 2 diabetes be cured? 

While type 2 diabetes cannot be cured, some people are able to control symptoms or go into remission with lifestyle adjustments. Most people with type 2 diabetes are able to manage this condition in the following ways. There are also several ways to manage diabetes without insurance. 

  • Diet adjustments: In general, people with type 2 diabetes are urged to eat a variety of foods and well-balanced meals including some fruits and vegetables. Your healthcare provider or nutritionist can help make suggestions regarding what types of food you should increase or decrease in your diet.
  • Physical activity: It is recommended that most people do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise each day and that adults with type 2 diabetes should also try to do resistance exercise 2-3 times per week. It is important to talk to your health care provider before making any changes to your exercise routine in order to make sure that new exercises are safe for you. You can also try to increase your physical activity by trying to stand and walk more throughout your day when possible.
  • Weight loss: If you are overweight, losing some weight can help improve your health outcomes. Making adjustments to your diet and physical activity levels with the help of your health care provider can lead to weight loss.
  • Medications or insulin therapy: While some individuals are able to manage and lower their blood sugar levels with changes in diet and exercise, other people go on medications to help regulate your insulin levels. Some of these medications include Metformin, Sulfonylureas, Glinides, Thiazolidinediones, DPP-4 inhibitors, GLP-1 receptor agonists, and SGLT2 inhibitors.
  • Regular blood glucose monitoring: When you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, your health care provider will tell you how often you need to monitor your blood glucose levels. There are also some electronic devices now that continuously monitor blood glucose levels and send alerts to your phone when your levels are too high or low.

Bottom Line 

Diabetes screening can be done through several different tests, including the A1C, random blood glucose, fasting blood glucose, and glucose tolerance tests. These tests tell you if the level of glucose in your bloodstream is too high, which can be indicative of improper insulin production and type 2 diabetes. You should consider getting your A1C levels checked if you are over 45 years old or have several risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. 

The cost of diabetes screening can vary depending on where you get tested and it is important to note that you may be charged a visit fee in addition to the cost of the test if going to an urgent care, doctor’s office, or hospital. With a Mira membership, you can access an A1C test for only $19 and regularly monitor your glucose levels. 

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