Cost/benefit of Uric Acid lab tests
Keith wrote in another thread:
“Not for this thread, but I’d be interested to read about your experience with uric acid test. Because, I’m intrigued by your cost issues. But, more importantly by ‘results tend to be all over the place.’
Anyway, that’s up to you. Because, I’ve no wish to intrude.”
I have >20 years experience with getting my UA tested.
I’m billed close to 60£ for each basic blood test if no doctor is involved. Tests can naturally cost a lot more depending on what is tested but a bigger problem is that doctors are typically involved which can easily double or triple the cost of a basic test.
I don’t want to write an essay about the issues involved in regulating for-profit health care but suffice it to say there are perverse incentives and many things are made more complicated and costly than they should be. For all the issues with NHS-type setups, they do keep costs down.
As to my tests results being all over the place, we’ve discussed this in several other threads.
Briefly, I’ve only had one crazy result when I was at the ER for something other than arthritis (though possibly related to UA) and I’m pretty sure that was simply a case of someone messing up a unit conversion (dividing the result by 10 yields a reasonable value).
But even disregarding tests carried out at the hospital, the standard deviation is still around 16% of the mean. Which is to say I’ve seen my share of odd results and surprisingly large variations. For instance, in a recent threads Keith talked about a UA test during an attack hypothetically being 10 umol/l off. But that’s peanuts. As I stated in that thread, I’ve had my results dropping >100 umol/l between the onset of an attack and its aftermath.
That said, trends over many tests and several years do make sense in relationship to my symptoms, my diet and so forth. But combining that with the cost of individual tests here, getting a workable picture of what’s going on with one’s UA can be quite expensive indeed.
One possible contributing factor to noise in my test results is that professionals often have a hard time drawing my blood. It may have been a coincidence but I got some of my lowest UA test results when my blood was drawn at an unusual location. While professionals have nevertheless always taken the numbers at face value, my rheuma doesn’t value UA tests as much as some other doctors.