Can I Book a Lab Test without a Doctor’s Referral?

It’s complicated. But we’re here to guide you.

4 min read

You want to get a lab test or imaging done, and you want to get it now. Maybe you want results so you can make a medical decision or your busy schedule means you need to take advantage of whatever openings you can. In many cases, a doctor’s script or doctor’s referral may be required for you to get a test. In other cases, tests may not require a doctor’s script.

However, here’s a general guide to booking a lab test without a doctor’s referral:

What is direct access testing for booking a lab test without a doctor’s referral?

Direct access testing, or DAT, is when a consumer initiates testing rather than a doctor. In some cases, this is also called direct-to-consumer or patient-authorized testing. DAT has been around for a while. For example, over-the-counter, at-home tests are a type of DAT. Recently, DAT has expanded in some places to include lab tests and imaging appointments. Some states allow DAT, meaning that patients can schedule certain types of tests directly with a test center without needing a script from a physician.

States with DAT include: Alaska, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Arizona, Mississippi, South Dakota, Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, Delaware, Montana, Utah, Nebraska, Vermont, Indiana, New Mexico, Virginia, Iowa, North Carolina, Washington, Kansas, North Dakota, West Virginia, Louisiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin, as well as Washington D.C.

However, not every test center in a DAT state will allow you to schedule a lab test without a doctor’s referral. Typically, they limit tests to those that are simple and related to general health, including diabetes screening, chemistry panels, PSA for prostate cancer, complete blood counts, cholesterol levels, thyroid tests, blood typing, HIV tests, pregnancy tests, urine drug screens, and, in some cases, genetic tests.

Labs must provide access to results as well as reference ranges, but it may still be necessary to discuss your results with your provider for a full understanding of the health implications. If test results are abnormal, always reach out to your doctor.

Will your insurance cover a lab test without a doctor’s referral?

Many tests accessed through DAT will not be covered by your insurance and, often, you will have to pay out-of-pocket. If this is important to you, check with your provider and the test center offering the test. You can often ask the test center how much your test costs to determine if you can afford this out-of-pocket fee and if it’s worth it to go through your provider first.

Looking to get diagnostic testing at an in-network lab or radiology center without a doctor’s referral? Or want to compare out-of-pocket costs? Try LabFinder.

LabFinder is an online destination for seamless direct access lab and radiology testing. Use our directory to search for labs and radiology centers near you. While LabFinder can connect patients to a provider in their insurance network, uninsured patients who are paying out of pocket can also use LabFinder to find the most convenient lab or imaging center at the most competitive price. In states which allow Direct Access Testing, patients will be able to schedule their own testing directly with the medical lab, without needing a script from a physician. We also offer self-pay search options. You can schedule your test for a time most convenient for you.

LabFinder helps labs and diagnostic centers bridge that divide to get accurate results back to patients faster and at a lower cost. We streamline the process, allowing doctors to book appointments for their patients or patients to do it themselves, as well as facilitating the convenient transmission of test results on the same platform through our HIPAA-compliant storage system.

What if you cannot book your lab test without a doctor’s referral?

If you’re using LabFinder, we offer MinuteMed for select tests. This trusted telehealth service employs a virtual primary care team, who will assess a health assessment completed by you, sign off on doctor’s script as appropriate, and can help discuss results with you after your test results come in.

MinuteMed is fast, secure, and convenient. And, it typically costs less than your insurance copay would be for a regular doctor’s visit and can be done from the comfort and privacy of your home. MinuteMed should not be considered a replacement for seeing your primary care physician, but can help you get a doctor’s referral for testing and make better, more informed decisions about your health.