Understanding the Basics of Laboratory Services as a Healthcare Consumer

13.07.21 03:30 PM By Forsite Benefits

Laboratory services (Labs) are a healthcare offering which provide a snapshot of your current health and are typically performed annually or semi-annually. The importance of labs lies in their creating awareness for yourself and your doctor of your health status and progression.


Much like preventive care services, participating in lab work can catch illness or disease in its early stages. Labs can monitor your body’s response to treatments, thus preventing late detection and the medical bills that come with such treatments.

What Happens When a Patient is Recommended to Receive Lab Work?

A typical lab experience for a patient includes a sample collection; whether that sample is blood being drawn by a needle or urine being collected in a cup. The sample is sent to a lab where it is tested according to the doctor’s specifications. Results are produced and reported from these tests to the doctor who will then discuss the patients results as well as next steps to sustain or improve health. 

Who Needs Laboratory services?

Individuals with a family history of chronic conditions {or} who are experiencing symptoms should inquire with their doctor for laboratory services. Such an inquiry can be made during your annual physical/wellness exam. When seeing a new doctor, have any recent lab work sent over. Keeping your lab history up-to-date will allow the comparing of lab tests and results over time and determine if new testing is needed.


Note: Before visiting the doctor for an annual exam, be sure your chosen physician is in-network according to your health plan. In-network care providers have a contract with your insurance provider to provide care at a set cost. It is typically more expensive to visit a care provider that is out-of-network. 

Are Laboratory Services (Labs) Covered by My Health Insurance?

Most health plans are required to offer laboratory services coverage. Lab services coverage means that your health plan will cover the routine tests your doctor orders. Typical lab services covered under a health plan include:


  • X-rays and diagnostic testing
  • CT scans and MRI’s
  • Blood and fluid tests
  • Biopsies
  • Pathology
  • Pregnancy tests


Note: Check with your insurance carrier to make sure the lab your tests are being sent to is in-network. It is important to know your benefits and what is covered by your health plan before scheduling an appointment by calling your benefits broker or insurance carrier to confirm.

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What Happens After Lab Work Has Been Completed?

Once your lab work has been completed and results are reported to the doctor, the doctor will meet with you to discuss the results. Meeting with your doctor to review the results can be done in the doctor’s office or through a telehealth appointment.  It is important that you know what your numbers and overall results mean. Take your time when meeting with your doctor and feel free to ask questions. Even if your results come back ‘normal’, it is important to understand your health and obtain guidance and what you should do based on your results to maintain these ‘normal’ numbers.


What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor to Better Understand My Lab Results?

  • What do the numbers reported from my lab results mean for my overall health?
  • Are there any actionable items for me to take away from these test results?
  • Based on my lab results, what do you predict for my health in the long-term?
  • Are there any medications I will need to start taking, and is there a generic version available?
  • What are some lifestyle and diet changes I can make to improve my health?

Keep a Journal of Family Medical History and Symptoms.

Upon experiencing new or worsening symptoms, keep a medical journal or calendar of your symptoms until you are able to see your doctor. Doing so can help your doctor determine the type of laboratory services you may need. It is also best practice to write down your family history of disease and illness. A family history should Include which relative(s) and at what age the illness occurred. These details could help you qualify for laboratory services an otherwise unaffected patient wouldn’t be qualified for.

Are you looking to take employee healthcare education to the next level? A proper method of communication is key to effective benefit offerings. Choose an uncluttered, engaging medium where you can relay important information to your employees. Whether email or a company intranet, know that choosing a communication method is the most important step you will take in helping your employees and organization thrive.

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