STD Testing With and Without Insurance

Understanding your options

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The possibility that you may have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) can be unsettling, but finding affordable STD testing doesn't need to be an additional worry. You may be wondering if insurance covers STD testing and what your options are if you aren't insured. Learn about insurance coverage for STD testing below.

Woman waiting at STD clinic
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Does Insurance Cover STD Testing?

Under the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) most private insurance plans and public health insurance programs like Medicaid must provide coverage for STD screening and counseling with no cost sharing. Note screening and counseling are different from diagnostic testing.

Screening tests check for disease in people who don't have symptoms but may have risk factors; they're usually recommended on a specific schedule. Screening tests for STDs are covered under the ACA.

Testing someone who has symptoms suggestive of an STD is considered a diagnostic test. A diagnostic test may or may not be covered under your insurance plan depending on the specific STD test. It may be considered preventive care - which does fall under the purview of the ACA.

If you have health insurance, STD screening is probably free for you or is at a reduced price, but coverage for STD diagnostic testing depends on your insurer and insurance plan. Contact your insurance provider directly for further details on coverage for STD screening and STD diagnostic testing.

STD Testing With Insurance

Although the ACA helps cover preventive STD screening tests for many, coverage does depend on the STD being screened for, in addition to age, sex, and other factors like pregnancy status.

The ACA does require insurance companies to cover HIV screening for those ages 15 to 65. Those who are younger than 15 or older than 65 and who are considered to have an increased risk are covered as well. Individuals who may face increased risk include:

  • They have unprotected sex.
  • They have multiple or anonymous sexual partners.
  • They have tested positive for another STD.
  • They're a man who has sex with men (MSM).

The ACA also requires insurance companies to cover syphilis screening for all adults and for adolescents who are at increased risk.

Screening coverage for other STDs depends on different factors. For chlamydia and gonorrhea screenings, only sexually active females (including those who are pregnant) who are 24 years and younger, or older than 24 and are at increased risk, are covered under the ACA.

Under the ACA, only sexually active males between 11 and 21 who are at increased risk have screening coverage for chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Diagnostic Testing

If you suspect you have an STD and are showing symptoms, your STD test will be considered a diagnostic test. Diagnostic test coverage is not required under the ACA and can vary between insurance companies. Talk to your health insurer to find out if you have coverage for STD diagnostic testing.

STD Testing Without Insurance

Without either private or public health insurance, STD screening at a healthcare provider's office or hospital can be pricey. You may have to pay a healthcare provider's visit fee in addition to paying for the test itself. In total, prices can range anywhere from $25 to over $200 depending on the STDs being tested for.

However, many public health clinics and centers offer low-cost or potentially free STD screening options for those without insurance. These can include:

  • Local health department STD clinics
  • Planned Parenthood health centers
  • LGBTQ+ centers
  • Family planning clinics
  • College or university student health centers
  • Mobile clinics

Be sure to call ahead to ask about testing availability and cost if you're interested in going to any of the clinics or centers listed above. Prices can vary depending on factors such as what tests you need, your household size, and your income level. They will give you details on how they charge for STD screening and if you qualify for a free screening test.

What About Home STD Tests?

Home STD testing is direct-to-consumer testing that can be done in the privacy of your own home. Home STD testing kits are usually bought online through a test supplier's website or through many department and pharmacy chain stores.

Many STD testing kits allow you to test for one or multiple STDs in one kit. The testing kit supplier provides the tools and instructions to take blood, urine, and/or oral swab samples and directs you to send back the samples by mail to a designated lab or take the samples to a lab near your area.

After Home STD Test, What's Next?

Home STD test results are typically sent to you within one week by email. If you test positive for an STD, the supplier will usually have a healthcare professional call you to discuss what steps to take next.

Home STD tests are not specifically covered under the ACA. Insurance coverage varies depending on your insurance provider and the test supplier you choose, making it a good idea to contact your insurer before buying one.

Also, you'll want to confirm that the test supplier accepts insurance. Most test suppliers do not, and costs for kits can range from $29 to $300 or more depending on the STDs being tested for.

STD Screening Guidelines

The decision to get tested for an STD is a personal yet important one. Whether you are concerned about possible recent STD exposure or simply want to include STD screening as a part of your preventive healthcare routine, knowing when and how frequently to test can benefit your health.

CDC Updated STI Treatment Guidelines

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) periodically releases treatment guidelines for STDs. The most recent, published July 2021, includes updated information about tests that are most appropriate for different groups of people - including pregnant women, men who have sex with men, and other groups with relative risk factors.

The CDC recommends that sexually active people who face increased risk for HIV get screened at least once per year. Women who are sexually active and under the age of 25 or over 25 with risk factors such as multiple or new sex partners should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia at least once every year.

MSM should be tested for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea at least once every year but in intervals of three to six months if they have multiple or anonymous partners.

Your healthcare provider will likely give you additional guidance on how often you should get tested, and your insurance company can give you the exact details on how often you're covered for all types of STD tests.

A Word From Verywell

It's important to get screened for STDs routinely, especially if you are at an increased risk of getting a disease. Coverage for screening and diagnostic testing can vary by disease and testing type, so ultimately your insurer is the best resource for clarification on any questions you may have about coverage or other associated medical costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can you tell if you have an STD?

    Symptoms do not always show in the case of an STD infection, so it's important to get tested if you feel that you have been exposed to an STD. When symptoms are present, they may include genital symptoms like:

    • Bumps and sores on or near the genitalia
    • Vaginal or penile discharge that is different than usual
    • Painful sex
    • Painful urination

    And other symptoms such as:

    • Skin rashes
    • Sores on or in the mouth
    • Fever and chills
    • Aches and pains
    • Jaundice
  • How long do STD results take?

    The timing for results depends on the type of test you take. For rapid tests, such as antibody tests, results can be received in under 30 minutes. For other tests that are more accurate, like a nucleic acid test (NAT), results may take up to several days.

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6 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.
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