Where & how to get tested for STDs without insurance?
Written by Alyssa Orcuilo & Jacqueline Slobin
The cost of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI or STD) test varies based on whether or not the patient is covered by insurance, patient income, tests needed, and the location of the testing site. While many insurance plans cover STD testing, it is still possible to get low-cost STD testing even if you are not covered by insurance.
STD testing can range in cost from free to around $300. Even without health insurance, depending on your income level, some clinics, such as Planned Parenthood and NYC Sexual Health clinics, can give tests at a lower cost. It is also beneficial to call available clinics in your area and community health centers for their policies.
When should you get tested for STDs?
Making the decision to get tested for STDs is a personal decision. However, you may want to strongly consider getting tested, especially if you:
- Have symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection.
- Symptoms can be extremely mild and come and go. But if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should get tested.
- If you want to have vaginal, anal, or oral sex with a new partner, without protection.
- If you‚ve had vaginal, anal, or oral sex with a new partner, without protection.
- Also note that the incubation periods vary for each STD, so having no symptoms does not mean you are free from STDs.
Incubation Period of Common STDs
How often should I get tested?
If you are sexually active, it's recommended that you get tested at least once a year. However, here is a more comprehensive guide from the CDC on how often you should get tested based on your age, partner preference, and other situation:
- All adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV.
- All sexually active women younger than 25 years should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year. Women 25 years and older with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners or a sex partner who has an STD should also be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year.
- All pregnant women should be tested for syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B starting early in pregnancy. At-risk pregnant women should also be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea starting early in pregnancy. Testing should be repeated as needed to protect the health of mothers and their infants.
- All sexually active gay and bisexual men should be tested at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Those who have multiple or anonymous partners should be tested more frequently for STDs (i.e., at 3- to 6-month intervals).
- Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent HIV testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).
- Anyone who has unsafe sex or shares injection drug equipment should get tested for HIV at least once a year.
What type of STDs should I get tested for?
If you have symptoms, a physician can help you determine which STDs you should get tested for. These determinations are based on the number of sexual partners, physical signs and symptoms, use of protection, and type of sexual intercourse. It is also important to make your provider aware of any medications you take, as they may affect your treatment options.
There are several ways to get tested for STDs, including individual STD tests, basic panels, and full panels. Your appropriate method of testing depends on several factors and your reason for seeking a test.
There are three STD test panels
Individual tests: it is possible to get tested for 1-2 STDs through individual tests. It is important to consult your physician, as it may be advised to screen for several STDs.
Basic panels: basic panels vary by testing site, but usually test for about 6-10 STDs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes I and II, hepatitis B and C, and HIV (strains I and II).
Full panels: full panels test for additional STDs that may not be detected on a basic panel, such as trichomoniasis, HPV, and genital herpes.
Types of Sexual Transmitted Infection
Tests are done through swabs, urine samples, and blood tests. If you think you have been exposed to an STD, below is a recommended guideline for when to get tested.
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- Chlamydia: get tested 1-5 days after possible exposure
- Gonorrhea: get tested 2-6 days after possible exposure
- Syphilis: get tested 3-6 weeks after possible exposure
- Herpes I and II: get tested 4-6 weeks after possible exposure
- Hepatitis B: results may be detected 3 weeks after exposure, but for most accurate results get tested 6 weeks after possible exposure
- Hepatitis C: get tested 8-9 weeks after possible exposure
- HIV: get RNA test 9-11 days after exposure and antibody test 1-3 months after exposure
Not all infections are the same, getting tested could help bring awareness and prevent further consequence
Is STD testing confidential and private?
Clinics and doctor‚s offices guarantee complete patient confidentiality and privacy and will aim for you to feel as comfortable as possible. However, healthcare providers are required to make a report if they believe you are at significant risk of harm by either yourself or someone else.
If you feel nervous or anxious, you can communicate with the doctor or medical staff and let them know how you are feeling.
Will my parents or my partner find out if I get STD tests?
The short answer is yes if they are on the same health plan, but not your test results. Your medical record is kept private and confidential, no one can access your medical record besides the authorized provider.
If you have insurance, a claim will be generated and it may show up under your family health plan within the "Explanation of Benefits". While your parents or your partners will not be able to see the test results, if they are the main beneficiary of the plan, they may be able to see the claims.
Can I tell the insurance company to censor my record?
Yes, you can call the insurance carrier and ask to censor certain sensitive information on the claim. However, there is no guarantee the claim will not show up on your parent's or partner's benefit statement.
Is there a way I can get tested without my parents knowing?
Yes. You can opt to not use insurance and pay cash for testing so that no claim will be generated. A membership with Mira is also a great solution to both get affordable care and keep your records private.
How much does it cost to get an STD test? Where can I get tested for STDs?
Most primary care physicians and community health clinics offer STD testing. Below is a guide that includes some locations that support low-cost STD testing.
Mira (NYC & LA)
With a Mira membership, you have access to affordable copays for annual check-ups, urgent situations, lab testing, STD testing, and medications. Mira is not a health plan and does not file any claims to insurance so you can keep your records private and your care confidential.
Mira's Pricing for STD testing
You can pay $25-$40/month for a membership with Mira. If you get an STD test at one of Mira's 1600 in-network lab sites, your test will cost $50 or less plus a doctor consultation. For more information visit this link. Mira is available for anyone- whether you're insured or not.
CityMD offers STD and HIV testing on a walk-in basis. Find your local CityMD office and their hours of operation if interested in getting a test. CityMD will treat patients without insurance, with price depending on the treatment needed and diagnosis.
City MD's Pricing for STD testing
The total cost for STD testing at CityMD is $350 ($200 for an office visit and $150 for the actual test). There will also be a separate lab bill.
Planned Parenthood (Nationwide)
Planned Parenthood offers STD testing, diagnosis, and treatment upon appointment. You can contact your local Planned Parenthood clinic to make an appointment and discuss pricing. Additionally, Planned Parenthood offers virtual appointments and STD testing for patients who do not feel comfortable going to a clinic during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Planned Parenthood's Pricing for STD testing
Planned Parenthood has a sliding scale fee depending on your income level. If you're making around $20,000 or less a year, you can expect to pay $108-$150 for the general STD panel. If you're making more than $35,000 annually, you can expect to pay $216-$270.
NYC Sexual Health Clinics
NYC Sexual Health Clinics provide low-cost STD and HIV testing on a first come first serve basis and funded by the NYC Department of Health. To speak with a representative in more detail about the costs of testing, you can call their hotline at 1-844-824-8963. If you are located in a different city, contact your local department of health for more information regarding free, or low-cost STD testing.
A couple of the NYC Sexual Health Clinics that remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic include Fort Greene Sexual Health Clinic and Chelsea Sexual Health Clinic. These clinics are operating with an adjusted schedule and sanitation protocols to ensure the health and wellbeing of their patients. For a map that includes over 100 STD testing centers in New York City.
Federal Qualified Health Centers - Community Clinics (Nationwide)
According to the US Department of Health, there are 1400 federal qualified health centers in the U.S. Similar to Planned Parenthood, pricing will depend on your level of income.
If you make less than $30,000 you can get tested at a low-price or free. If your income exceeds the limit, you could expect to pay between $100-$250 for the test depending on the panel selected. You can search for a center here.
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