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Allergy Test Cost: Pricing for Different Types of Allergy Testing

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Allergy Testing Costs

writtenByWritten by: Ryan Quinn
Ryan Quinn

Ryan Quinn

Ryan has a background in geochemical research and enjoys writing on technical subjects like health and science. He lives in Salt Lake City, UT and can be found recreating in the local mountains.

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April 7, 2021 Read Time - 11 minutes

Learn About Different Allergy Testing Pricing Options

There are a number of different tests that an allergist might administer in order to determine what a patient is allergic to, whether their allergies are seasonal, and how they can best treat their patient’s allergy.

The most common are skin tests and blood tests. Skin tests are the most inexpensive (and common). However, each test has some pros and cons associated with it, including allergy testing costs. The final price is determined by the patient’s health insurance coverage. 

Let’s take a look at different allergy testing costs and options.

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How Much Does Allergy Testing Cost?

The cost of allergy testing is not necessarily the same as what a patient typically pays out-of-pocket. The payment depends on your insurance plan and the relationship between your insurer and your doctor.

When trying to figure out how much allergy testing will cost you, there are some things that you can look for. Some questions to help figure out the cost of allergy testing include:

  • What is my deductible? Your deductible is the amount you pay before insurance will start to contribute.
  • What is my copay? Your copay is the minimum cost per visit.
  • What is my coinsurance? Your coinsurance is the percentage of the total cost (post-deductible) that you are responsible for.
  • Is the allergist a network provider with my health insurance? If yes, then you will want to know what the allowable cost is for the test you are interested in. If no, then what is the allergy test cost quoted by the allergist?

Allowable cost can be a confusing concept, so let’s take a look at an example to help better understand it.

If an allergist charges $100 for a test, but they are a network provider with your insurance, and the allowable cost determined by the insurance company is $70, then you and your insurance will only be charged $70 (the remaining $30 is written off). If the allergist is not a network provider, then you may be responsible for the full $100.

Is Allergy Testing Covered by Insurance?

Yes, most allergy tests will be covered by health insurance, and the specialist administering the test will most likely be a network provider. If that is the case, the final allergy test cost will have more to do with the health insurer’s allowable cost for the specific test.

Each test has a specific Current Procedural Terminology code (e.g., CPT code 95004 for a skin scratch test), so the best way to get a cost estimate is to contact your health insurance provider and ask them what the allowable cost is for a specific CPT code. Prices quoted in this article were sourced from the Fair Health Consumer website.

Depending on the abovementioned factors, including your copay vs coinsurance, an allergy test will probably cost around $70 with insurance coverage. Without insurance, the cost will range from approximately $200 to $1000 depending on the test and number of allergens tested for.

Read on to find out more about the different tests, including their CPT codes and the approximate allergy test cost of each type!

Types of Allergy Testing

There are two main types of allergy tests: skin tests and blood tests. Both skin tests and blood tests can be used for seasonal allergy tests. Skin tests are the most common type of non-seasonal and seasonal allergy test. They are quick, safe, and reliable.

Meanwhile, a blood allergy test can be advantageous compared to a skin test because it can be done at any time, regardless of any current medications you may be taking. A blood allergy test might also be more appropriate for patients with heart conditions, poorly controlled asthma, skin conditions that preclude skin tests, or a history of anaphylaxis.

Skin Allergy Tests

Although it might seem like a skin test would be limited to testing for skin allergies, skin tests actually can be used to test a wide variety of allergic conditions, including:

  • Allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
  • Allergic asthma
  • Eczema
  • Food allergies
  • Penicillin allergy
  • Bee, wasp, and hornet venom allergies
  • Latex allergies
  • Mold allergies

Skin tests are most commonly prick tests, but there are other types of skin tests that are intended for specific purposes, each with slightly different costs.

  • Skin prick test (or scratch test): CPT code 95004 – During a skin prick test, a small amount of an allergen is placed on the skin. The skin is then pricked or scratched, and if the patient is allergic to the allergen, there will be swelling at the test site. The allergy test cost for a skin prick test will be approximately $5 per allergen. This is the cheapest and most common test for both non-seasonal and seasonal allergies, and skin tests for allergies can test up to 40 allergens simultaneously!
  • Intradermal test: CPT code 95024 – In some cases, allergy test results from skin prick tests are inconclusive. In such circumstances, another allergy testing procedure known as an intradermal test might be administered if the allergy doctor still reason to believe there may be an allergy. For intradermal tests, the allergy doctor will use a syringe to inject allergens underneath the skin and watch the injection site for reaction. The allergy test cost for an intradermal test is approximately $10 per allergen.
  • Intradermal/scratch combination tests – An intradermal test might be combined with a scratch test when testing specifically for allergies to penicillin (CPT code 95018; $15 to $65) or to venom (CPT code 95017; $5 to $15) per allergen. The number of allergens tested for with these tests are fewer than a prick test, so the allergy test cost of these might be lower even though each allergen is more expensive.
  • Patch test: CPT code 95044Occasionally, a patch test is done to test for a specific allergen causing contact dermatitis (e.g., latex, metals, fragrances, medications, preservatives, resins, and hair dyes). With patch tests, no needles are used. Instead, allergens are applied to a patch and the patch is worn for approximately 48 hours. After 72–96 hours, the patient will return to the doctor and the patch site will be inspected for the presence of an allergic reaction. The allergy test cost for a patch test is approximately $5 to $15 per allergen.

Do Skin Allergy Tests Hurt?

During a skin allergy test, you might feel some slight discomfort, but skin prick tests are not painful. Skin prick tests use a needle, but they barely go beneath the surface of the skin.

There is no bleeding, and if any discomfort is felt, it is only momentary. Intradermal tests are only slightly more uncomfortable, and patch tests do not hurt, although they may be irritating if allergens cause itchiness.

In some circumstances, a skin test might be inappropriate. An allergy doctor might recommend a different allergy testing procedure if:

  • You have had a severe allergic reaction in the past. A small amount of allergen could trigger anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction) and a skin test might be considered unsafe.
  • You take medications that could skew allergy test results. Some medications, such as antihistamines, deter an allergic reaction from developing even if the patient is allergic. Other medications can increase the chance of having a severe allergic reaction to a skin test. Certain types of antidepressants, some heartburn medications, and omalizumab (an asthma medication) can also interfere with allergy test results.
  • You have certain skin conditions (e.g., eczema or psoriasis) that prohibit suitable testing sites. Skin on the arms (common for adults) or back (more common with allergy testing for kids) are typical sites for skin tests; if there is not enough skin that is symptom free, then a skin test for allergies might not be doable.

If a skin test is deemed inappropriate, then a blood test is often the next allergy testing procedure to be considered.

Blood Allergy Test

An allergy testing procedure known as a blood test can help determine if there is an allergy present in your system. Unfortunately, blood tests do have some disadvantages: they are more expensive, take longer, and are less sensitive (potentially less accurate) than skin tests.

A blood test is the preferred allergy testing procedure when allergy testing for very young children and infants.

How do blood allergy tests work? During allergic reactions, the body produces extra immunoglobulin E (IgE), which are antibodies in the bloodstream that help fight off a perceived threat. With a blood allergy test, a sample of blood is drawn with a needle from a vein in the patient’s arm. After a blood sample is collected, it is analyzed in a laboratory for IgE levels. Elevated IgE levels indicate the patient is allergic.

A blood test for allergies will come out negative or positive. A negative result indicates there is no allergic response to the allergies tested, whereas a positive result indicates that the patient has an allergy. Total IgE levels only indicate an allergy is present but do not inform you about which allergen causes the reaction. Specific IgE tests (CPT code 86003) are required to identify specific allergen(s).

False negatives can result, meaning the test shows that the patient is not allergic even though they actually are. False positives can also occur, where the blood allergy test results indicate the patient is allergic when they are really not. The allergy blood test accuracy is less reliable than skin tests. For this reason, blood allergy test results should be interpreted with caution by an experienced allergy doctor.

How much does allergy testing cost for a blood test? For a Specific IgE test (CPT code 86003) the cost per allergen is $5 to $20 (approximately $200 to $1000 total without insurance).

Other Allergy Testing Procedures

There are alternative allergy testing procedures that exist but are not recommended by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI). Be skeptical of immunoglobulin G (IgG) tests, at-home allergy testing kits, applied kinesiology, and skin titration tests. It is best to be tested by a board-certified allergist.

Additional Allergy Test Costs

If a patient is diagnosed with an allergy, medications or immunotherapy might be recommended. Immunotherapy can cost up to $4000 for the first year if the patient does not have insurance. For patients without insurance, some doctors will offer discounts up to 35% off if the patient pays with cash or credit card.

Preparing for Allergy Testing: What Should You Not Do Before an Allergy Test?

To prepare for an allergy test, avoid taking antihistamines for 3–7 days before the test. Be sure to tell your allergist about all medications you are currently taking, including over-the-counter medications. If needed, your allergist will tell you whether you need to stop taking them.

“It’s okay to use nose [nasal] steroid sprays and asthma medicines,” according to the AAAI. “They will not interfere with skin tests.”

When to Contact a Doctor

It is extremely important to seek immediate medical attention if someone is experiencing a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Such reactions are life-threatening, and you should not wait to see if symptoms dissipate.

If you want to find out how much an allergy test will cost, it is best to contact your insurance provider and ask what the allowable charge is for a specific CPT code.

Other allergy related reasons to contact a doctor include the following:

  • Recurring sinus infections, congestion, or difficulty breathing
  • Symptoms of allergies several months out of the year
  • If over-the-counter allergy treatments do not help or cause undesirable side effects
  • Asthma or allergies inhibit day-to-day activities or quality of life
  • Warning signs of serious asthma attacks such as difficulty breathing, wheezing or coughing, or tightness in the chest

Medicine for allergy relief can cause side effects and complications when combined with other drugs. It is particularly important to contact a doctor before using allergy medicine if:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Chronic health conditions exist such as glaucoma, diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, etc.
  • You are taking other medications
  • You are treating allergies in a child
  • You are treating allergies in elderly patients
  • Your current allergy medicine isn’t working

A visit with a doctor or allergist might include:

  • Allergy testing
  • Education
  • Prescriptions
  • Immunotherapy, which is a treatment that periodically injects allergens with the goal of desensitizing the body, resulting in relief
  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

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How Do You Get Tested for Allergies?

If you think you might have an allergy or need medical advice on managing allergy symptoms, click here to call or book online with PlushCare and set up a phone appointment with a top U.S. doctor today. 

Our licensed, board-certified doctors are graduates of the top 50 U.S. medical schools, and can help you get the allergy testing or treatment you need through a convenient online appointment.


Read More About Allergies


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Allergy Testing. Accessed on January 28, 2021 at https://acaai.org/allergies/allergy-treatment/allergy-testing

Choosing Wisely. Allergy Tests. Accessed on January 28, 2021 at https://www.choosingwisely.org/patient-resources/allergy-tests/

FAIR Health Consumer. Preventive Care and Wellness Services: Coverage and Costs. Accessed on April 6, 2021 at https://www.fairhealthconsumer.org/insurance-basics/your-costs/preventive-care-and-wellness-services 

MedlinePlus. Allergy testing – skin. Accessed on January 28, 2021 at https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003519.htm

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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