Hepatitis C is a very serious disease that causes liver failure. It’s caused by a virus, known as the hepatitis C virus (HCV). People can get this virus through sharing drug injection equipment, or through unprotected sex.
Why might you choose an at home hepatitis C test?
The only way to know whether you have the hepatitis C virus is to get a blood test. This virus sometimes causes symptoms in its early stages, but many people actually have no symptoms at all until the virus has severely damaged their liver. This is why testing is important, so you can find out whether you have this dangerous virus.
One method is to ask your doctor to order testing for hepatitis C (and potentially other diseases as well, such as HIV). You would then visit a lab to get your blood drawn. However, some people prefer to maintain their privacy regarding potentially sensitive testing like this. In addition, not everyone wants to go through the hassle and expense of a doctor’s office visit in order to get their testing ordered.
For those who want to complete their testing entirely in the privacy of their own home, home testing kits are available. You will get the kit in the mail and take your own blood sample through a fingerprick. You’ll then send this to the lab and get your results online in a few days.
If you prefer not to take your own blood sample, then you can still order the test yourself, but then visit a laboratory to have your blood drawn. Like with home testing, you’ll get your results online in a few days. Your results will still be private and not shared with your doctor or insurance company.
Should you use insurance for your home test for hepatitis C?
If you have health insurance, then you may have considered using this to pay for your hepatitis C testing. Sometimes, insurance may pay for this test, although not always. However, even if your insurance does cover your testing, there are a few things to consider before you decide to go this route.
One is that an insurance company often sends a document called an explanation of benefits (EOB) after it pays for any type of medical service, including testing. While the EOB doesn’t disclose the results of your test, it does show what type of testing was done on you. If you share your insurance with family members, then you might not want them to know that you got tested. You’d need to avoid using insurance to ensure that they won’t see the EOB and find out about the test.
Another issue is that the fact that you were tested, and sometimes also the results, will then be reported to your insurance company. Some people prefer to keep testing of this nature private, especially if they’re concerned about how the insurance company might use information that they obtain. If you don’t want your insurance company to know about your test and the results, then you need to pay for the test privately.
Fortunately, you can order an at home hep C test for a reasonable cost. This allows you to maintain your privacy while still getting the testing that you need to stay safe.
Types of Hepatitis C testing at home kits
It’s certainly possible to order a hepatitis C test alone. This may be preferred if you have had a known exposure to this virus, and you only want to test for this one virus.
However, if you have risk factors, then you may want to consider testing for other types of diseases as well. If you use injection drugs or engage in blood play, then testing for HIV as well as HCV is probably a good idea. You may want to test for hepatitis B virus (HBV) too. If you have sex outside of a mutually monogamous relationship (especially if you don’t always use condoms), then you may want to test for other STDs as well, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, and trichomoniasis.
Here are the four testing services that we usually recommend:
This company offers a test for hepatitis B and C for $79. Hep C testing is not included in their standard STD panels, so if you want to test for other diseases as well, then you’ll need to order additional testing. LetsGetChecked offers home testing kits, so you’ll take your own blood sample and mail it back to the lab for testing. This company ships to all US states (as well as the UK and Ireland) and doesn’t take insurance.
This company offers a hepatitis C test for $79, so if you’re only looking to do a hep C at home test, you can get this by itself. The hepatitis C virus is also included in some of the STD panels that myLAB Box offers. This is also a home testing service, so you’ll take your blood sample yourself. The company ships to all US states and doesn’t take insurance.
This company is the most affordable, offering a hepatitis C test alone for $59. You can also choose a panel that includes hep C along with other STDs. With PrioritySTD, you will order the test yourself, but will then visit a laboratory to have your blood drawn. This may be a disadvantage if you live in a rural area where there are few medical laboratories but could also be viewed as an advantage by those who prefer not to perform their own blood draws. There are labs across the US. This company does not take insurance.
Health Testing Centers
With this company, you can order a hepatitis C test on its own for $79, or have it as part of an STD panel. This company is unique in that it allows you to choose between a home test kit and a laboratory blood draw. You can choose a hep C test at home for maximum privacy or if you live in a rural area, or to go into a lab if there’s a convenient one and you prefer this option. However, there are certain states (New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island) where this service is not available. This company does not take insurance.
Comparing hepatitis home testing kits
To summarize the information we’ve provided, here’s a helpful chart comparing the various options for hepatitis c testing at home.
LetsGetChecked. https://www.letsgetchecked.com/. Accessed 8 Sep 2022.
myLAB Box. https://www.mylabbox.com/. Accessed 8 Sep 2022.
PrioritySTD. https://www.prioritystdtesting.com/. Accessed 8 Sep 2022.
Health Testing Centers. https://www.healthtestingcenters.com/. Accessed 8 Sep 2022.
Hepatitis C. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hcv/index.htm. Accessed 8 Sep 2022.
Hepatitis C. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hepatitis-c/symptoms-causes/syc-20354278. Accessed 8 Sep 2022.