The 4 Best At-Home Kidney Tests of 2020

How healthy are your kidneys? Find out at home

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First Look

Did you know an estimated 37 million Americans have kidney disease—and about half don't even know it?

Kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the United States, with diabetes and high blood pressure leading to 3 out of 4 new cases of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Many of these cases go undiagnosed until kidney disease is advanced because the signs can be so subtle.

Early-stage kidney disease usually has no symptoms and is usually discovered by accident, with the diagnosis of diseases that often contribute to kidney failure, like diabetes. In the early stages, kidney disease may be reversible, or at the very least slowed down. Late diagnosis of kidney disease often leads to kidney failure, where the only options for treatment are dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Laboratory tests using urine or blood samples can be a red flag for early kidney disease. Some of the most common tests related to kidney health provide details about your body’s metabolism through a Basic or Complete Metabolic Panel. This test includes important measurements that give insight into your kidneys, including creatinine levels and glomerular filtration rates.

While being tested in a laboratory through your doctor is the gold standard, a lack of access to health care and insurance coverage can make testing at the hospital or through a traditional doctor’s office difficult and expensive for some people.

Originally done with a doctor's order in a lab, these tests can now be prepared at home, too. The number of companies offering at-home lab testing is on the rise, reducing red tape and the cost of testing. At-home testing may be ideal for early detection, especially in people who have a hard time leaving their homes, or who don't have medical insurance.

Tip:

Online lab testing is prohibited in Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island

We put together a list of some of the best at-home kidney function tests to use, so you can get speedy, confidential results in your home and take the appropriate next steps if required.

Reminder:

Reimbursement for at-home kidney tests is not covered by insurance or Medicare

Our Top Picks

Walk-In-Lab: Most Comprehensive

Walk-In-Lab

Walk-In-Lab 

Pros
  • Several affordable options

  • Testing offered at physical lab locations near you, at labs owned by LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics

  • Large variety of tests available

  • Network of physicians available online to place orders and interpret test results

Cons
  • Limited home testing options

We chose this testing company because it offers 56 different test options, each assessing some aspects of kidney health. You can also call the company if you don’t see a test listed, or if you aren’t sure which test to order. Walk-In-Lab offers the following options for testing kidney function. The tests in bold are the tests most typically used by doctors to screen for kidney disease:

  • Creatinine Clearance 24-Hour Urine and Blood Test
  • Parathyroid Hormone Intact Blood Test
  • Comprehensive Metabolic Panel 
  • Creatinine Serum Test
  • Creatinine Test, 24-Hour
  • Cystatin C Blood Test
  • Microalbumin/Creatinine Ratio Urine Test, Random
  • Potassium Urine Test, 24-hour
  • Potassium Blood Test, RBC
  • Protein Total Urine Test, Quantitative, 24-Hour
  • Renal Function Blood Test Panel
  • Sodium Urine Test, 24-Hour
  • Vitamin D 1,25 Dihydroxy (Calcitrol) Blood Test
  • Osmolality Urine Test
  • Creatinine Urine Test, Random
  • Urea Nitrogen (BUN) Serum Test
  • Albumin Serum Test
  • Sodium Urine Test, Random
  • Urea Nitrogen Urine Test, 24-Hour

All of the tests used by Walk-In-Lab’s home kidney testing kits use either a blood or urine sample collected at home. Your collection kit will include the supplies you need and instructions for collection. Blood spot tests require only a fingerstick with a lancet. Urine samples will be placed in a supplied collection device. If your kit requires a blood draw, you have a few options: you can use the lab finder tool on Walk-In-Lab’s website to find a lab near you, or you can even call to schedule a visit from a mobile phlebotomist at your home. If you need to visit a lab or schedule a mobile lab visit for a blood draw, the lab will submit your sample. All other samples can be mailed back to Walk-In-Lab with a prepaid shipping envelope.

Testing options range from a $22 urine dipstick to detect the presence of protein in the urine to the Kidney #3 Extreme Blood and Urine Test Panel. The labs that process your results are fully accredited and are the same labs that process tests for hospitals. Results are available in 24 to 48 hours on a secure, HIPAA-compliant server.

The Kidney #3 Extreme Blood and Urine Test Panel costs $308 but includes a complete blood count (CBC), comprehensive blood panel (CMP), urinalysis with microscopic examination plus parathyroid hormone, vitamin D testing, protein, and creatinine testing, and more. This test includes a variety of sample types, so be sure to read the collection instructions included in your kit carefully.

While Walk-In-Lab does not accept insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, you can request a receipt to submit to your insurance company on your own for reimbursement.

Healthy.io: Best Tool for Doctors

Healthy.io

Healthy.io

Pros
  • Simple for users

  • Cost-saving for health systems as a tool to prevent costly disease progression

  • Opportunity to catch kidney disease early and halt progression

Cons
  • Only available through your doctor

High blood pressure is a risk factor for kidney disease, and an early indication that hypertension is leading to kidney disease is the presence of proteins in your urine. The National Kidney Foundation conducted a trial with the CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) Early Detection Service test, combined with a smartphone app that was offered to people who were diagnosed with high blood pressure, but not kidney disease. The CKD Early Detection Service uses an at-home urine test to screen the urine of high-risk people for the presence of these proteins. Adherence to screening recommendations improved from 0% to 72% in the study group, according to the trial.

While you can’t buy this kit directly from the company as a patient, your doctor can request it for you to make screening easier to do at home. The test has earned FDA approval as a home test for chronic kidney disease, but the company has not offered any information on insurance coverage.

The At-Home Kidney Test from Healthy.io combines at-home urine testing with data sharing over a smartphone app. Here’s how the home test works: first you download a smartphone application, then you are mailed a dipstick, a specially designed collection cup, and a color-coded board to help analyze the samples in various home lighting environments. When collecting a sample, you simply open the app and follow the on-screen instructions, collecting urine, and placing it in the provided container.

Next, you place the dipstick in the collection cup, then place the dipstick on the color board and scan both the dipstick and the color board with your phone, using the app. Results are sent to a HIPAA-compliant portal to be analyzed. You receive confirmation that testing is done and are alerted to an abnormal test. Your doctor is notified with any abnormal results and follow-up testing needs.

Pixel by LabCorp: Best for Price, Convenience

Pixel by LabCorp

Pixel by LabCorp

Pros
  • Samples can be drawn both at home or in the lab

  • Online support and results on HIPAA-compliant portal

  • Easy access to physicians to review orders and test results

Cons
  • Complaints in online reviews about customer services

  • Limited testing options

LabCorp’s Kidney Health Test Package allows you to get kidney function test results at home. The kidney test includes all the measurements that will give a snapshot of your kidney’s overall health—creatinine, estimated glomerular filtration rates, albumin, and the albumin-creatinine ratio—for the price of one or two tests from competitors. Other tests can give you much more detailed information about your kidneys, but this $89 test kit will provide you with enough information to show any red flags or concerns. You may also find cheaper tests, but they may not include as many measurements within your lab results.

LabCorp requires a doctor's order for all tests, but the company contracts with physicians to provide the order for you. You don’t make appointments with these physicians, but they are available to review your orders and results, and the cost of these services is included in your testing kit price. Your test results will be reviewed by physicians with this service, and you will be contacted directly by phone if your results are urgent. Urine tests can be mailed, but blood draws must be collected in one of LabCorp’s many 36 primary lab locations across the U.S.—the labs are certified and perform testing for hospitals and clinics as well.

LabCorp doesn’t bill insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, but you can use Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA) to purchase these kits.

LabCorp also offers the more basic albumin-creatinine ratio test alone for $59. This test uses just a urine sample to detect proteins in your urine.

We did find complaints in online reviews about LabCorp’s lack of responsiveness for customer service issues. The company offers details about its different services online, as well as a help section and a blog, but online support is not available.

Tip:

Blood glucose self-testing equipment and supplies are covered for all people with Medicare Part B who have kidney disease. This includes those who use insulin and those who do not use insulin.

LetsGetChecked: Best Value

LetsGetChecked

LetsGetChecked

Pros
  • Comprehensive results in a single test

  • Most results for the test price

  • Simple sampling and return process

  • No lab visits or mobile lab draws required

  • Good online reviews from customers

Cons
  • Only one type of test is offered

You can’t beat the price: for $99, the Kidney Test Kit by LetsGetChecked checks your urea, creatinine, and estimated GFR using a blood sample you collect through a finger prick. A prepaid shipping label is included to return the kit for testing.

This lab is accredited by the American College of Pathologists using the same standards as hospitals to ensure quality.

All supplies—collection information, a patient ID card, an alcohol pad and adhesive bandage, a lancet, blood collection tubes, a biohazard bag, and a self-addressed stamped envelope to return the sample—are sent to you. Step-by-step instructions, plus instructional videos on the website, are available to view before ordering the testing kit.

After collecting your sample in the morning, you can return the kit (prepaid) for testing. Results will be available to review on a secure online account within two to five days, and a medical support team is available to help you interpret your results. The team will call you by phone with abnormal results, and your full report will be supplied to you on a secure website.

How We Chose the Best At-Home Kidney Tests

The above testing kits were evaluated using the information about which tests were included in the packages, how samples were collected, what online and phone support was offered after samples resulted, ease of ordering and testing, support and guidance on collecting samples, and cost.

What Is Kidney Disease?

The kidneys filter all the blood in your body every 30 minutes, and kidney disease impacts the ability of your body to filter out excess fluids. Kidney failure happens when these filters don't do their job and fluids and other substances—electrolytes and minerals like potassium and other waste products—build up to dangerous levels in the body.

An imbalance in fluids can cause swelling, blood pressure problems, irregular heart rhythms, confusion, and more.

What Causes Kidney Disease?

Kidney disease occurs for a number of reasons. You may have a genetic or autoimmune condition that compromises your kidney function, your kidney function could be impaired by lifestyle choices such as high blood sugars or blood pressure, or by other conditions like cancer.

How Do You Test for Kidney Disease?

Comparing testing for kidney disease is difficult because there are many different methods of collecting and analyzing samples that test kidney function. The most basic criterion for diagnosing kidney disease is a decreased glomerular filtration rate (GFR) value. Glomeruli are the tiny filters in the kidneys, and GFR is a measurement that can tell you how well these filters are working.

GFR can be measured through blood or urine samples. Urine tests typically check for protein in your urine. This happens in early kidney damage, as the kidney begins to leak protein. If there is protein present, your doctor would order a second urine test to check your albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR), which shows how much albumin (a protein) and how much creatinine (a kind of waste) is in your urine after it has passed through the kidneys. Blood tests can provide an estimated GFR.

Is Kidney Disease the Same as a Kidney Infection?

Kidney disease is not the same as a kidney infection. Kidney disease happens when you have a genetic or congenital issue—one you were born with—that causes damage to your kidneys, or when your lifestyle choices limit your kidney function. Diabetes, heart disease, alcohol, and drug use, and other conditions can all impact your kidneys—even the medications you take. Chronic kidney disease is the result of long-term problems that lower the ability of your kidneys to process and excrete waste fluids and solutes, regulate blood pressure, and maintain the body’s fluid balance.

Kidney infections, on the other hand, are limited, short-term issues that can arise from kidney stones, a bladder infection, or other acute illnesses. You can also have a kidney injury—often caused by sudden illness or certain medications—that can resolve in time with little permanent damage.

How Much Do At-Home Kidney Tests Cost?

At-home kidney tests range in cost from about $20 to several hundred dollars. More affordable tests typically have limited results and use a fingerstick or urine sample. The renal system is complicated, so the more accurate tests require larger blood samples, and you may have to supplement a urine sample with a trip to a lab. These tests are usually more expensive, but you can still have them done without seeing your doctor and still have your tests interpreted by a clinician and receive comprehensive information about your kidney function.

A Word From VeryWell

At-home kidney disease tests are considered unreliable by medical professionals. We recommend you consult a doctor for interpretation of test results, confirmation of results, and advice regarding the best ways to manage kidney disease.

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Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Chronic Kidney Disease Basics."

  2. Leddy J, et al. "Improving proteinuria screening with mailed smartphone urinalysis testing in previously unscreened patients with hypertension: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Nephrology."