Get Your Own Blood Work

Readers of this site may already know that one can order numerous blood tests without contacting a doctor in the United States. Often at prices that are lower than the discounted prices offered through health insurance plans.

I use UltaLabs. There are many others. I go to the website and select all the tests I need. Many are discounted and there are always sales. Then I search online for a coupon. Once my order is completed, I am directed to a nearby blood draw facility. Mine happens to be in a medical office in the back of a Safeway that I can walk to. All I need to do is show up with a printout of my order. UltaLabs uses Quest Diagnostics to process the blood work.

AI prompt: lab with vials of blood. pop art

Then over the next few days, the results will start coming in. I have Quest connected to my Apple Health app. I can also log in to their website to see the results. Charts and colored bars tell me if I’m in a good range and if things are getting directionally better or worse.

Often when I tell people I do my own blood work, they mention their doctor and health insurance. Enough with getting permission and getting reimbursements! Unless you have an amazing relationship with your doctor and awesome health insurance, my advice is to do it my way and pay out of pocket.

When I was with Kaiser, I did it the traditional way. I made an appointment with my assigned doctor. Drove to the appointment. Waited in the lobby. Had my meeting. Made the case for getting some blood tests. After getting permission, I had to go to another building for the blood draw service. Wait there. Then drive home. Weeks later I would receive the bill which showed the price of the tests and the discounted price I would pay because I had insurance. It was twice as high as UltaLabs and I didn’t get all the tests I wanted. Too much friction.

Go around the doctor. Get your own blood work. If you discover an issue, then make a doctor’s appointment. Apple Health lets you share your medical info directly from the app.

Another reason I like working with UltaLabs and Quest is because it is my account and my data. It is independent of my health insurance. Since I left Kaiser and had a phone upgrade, I have not been able to access those labs. I’ve spent numerous hours trying to get those records imported. I eventually gave up.

If you need more help picking tests and analyzing them, there are companies like Mareck and Inside Tracker that provide additional services.

I lost my Kaiser data from 2020. I had a 400-something reading.

I wish I could go back in time and get blood work every year. I missed last year, because of my hernia and surgery. I didn’t want junk data. I plan to get blood work done twice this year. In February and early autumn.

I am far from an expert on this topic. I’m learning more every year. Here is a Google Sheet that I use to write down blood test ideas.

4 Comments

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  1. 100%. It’s almost like people don’t realize you can just get any blood test you want, and it’s not expensive out of pocket.

    I go through a DPC (direct primary care) provider, but it’s as simple as you describe – I text the office what tests I want, they quote me the at-cost price, I order the ones I want and go to a lab of my choice. A few days later, the results come in.

    I get a super comprehensive panel every couple months, and it’s usually around $100. The basics are much cheaper, probably <$30.

    Btw congrats on fixing your T. I'm fascinated that we have a modern low-T epidemic in men. Mine is very high too on ex150, typically over 1,000.

    Since you seem to have done the same on a low-fat diet, I wonder what it is? Cutting out seed oils? Low protein? I wasn't even working out until recently and still had high T.

  2. @exfatloss – I suspect the 400 T score was taken at a time I was having poor sleep and I recall the testing time was later in the day. It was likely an outlier.

    I only have 2 ideas on the upward direction since then.
    1- cold/contrast showers
    2- mouth taping

    Diet, weight, exercise were mostly the same. I need more readings to draw better conclusions, which is why my aim is to go twice a year going forward.

  3. Haha I go every couple months. But then I don’t regularly donate blood like you do 😉

    Yea sleep is likely a massive factor. I do suspect most modern humans have terrible sleep. I’m “lucky” to have a circadian rhythm disorder that forced me to “get good at sleep” in my 20s.

  4. This is good to know. Thanks for posting!

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