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Your Guide To Antibody Test Locations, Costs, And Accuracy In NYC

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Registered nurse draws blood from Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts during a COVID-19 antibody test drive at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem Mary Altaffer/AP/Shutterstock

The varying reliability of coronavirus antibody testing is by now well-established. The tests, designed to inform people about whether they’ve had COVID-19 and developed the antibodies needed to help fight the virus off, differ in their degree of accuracy. And given how new the disease is to the medical community, scientists are still trying to figure out how antibodies relate to immunity. 

Yet, as government officials and health care providers caution that testing positive for antibodies doesn’t guarantee immunity, they’re also ramping up testing availability and lauding testing initiatives as a key step towards reopening the economy. All labs conducting antibody testing have to report results to the state Department of Health.

So, for those who do want an antibody test in the New York City area, Gothamist has compiled information on cost, accuracy, and turnaround time at a handful of testing sites. This guide is part of PriceCheckNYC, Gothamist’s collaborative project with WNYC and ClearHealthCosts to promote transparency in health care.

The difference between labs and tests

The guide lists which lab each testing site works with as well as the tests that are used in that lab. While a testing site might say it uses a specific test, labs often rotate through the tests they have available. It’s important to note that this can change frequently as new tests gain emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration and as labs seek to increase their capacity to process all the blood samples coming in. 

The FDA has been allowing antibody tests onto the market that have yet to undergo the vetting process necessary to get emergency use authorization, and this guide also indicates whether a test has gained that expedited approval or not (only one site that uses tests without emergency use authorization is included here, mainly as a source of comparison).

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The materials needed for drawing blood are seen on a table during a COVID-19 antibody test drive at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem Mary Altaffer/AP/Shutterstock

Accuracy

The accuracy of each test is described in terms of specificity and sensitivity. A test with a high level of specificity is less likely to produce a false positive result. A test with a high level of sensitivity is less likely to produce a false negative result. There is often a trade-off between the two, with some tests sacrificing sensitivity for specificity or vice versa.

Readers who want to look up a test not listed here can check whether it has emergency use authorization from the FDA online. The FDA website also provides stats on the accuracy of these tests.

Cost

Many testing sites are now saying that they are waiving patient costs such as copays and deductibles for antibody tests in compliance with the federal CARES Act. However, some testing sites are not charging patients up front, while others are charging patients and leaving it to their insurers to reimburse them. For instance, Will Compernolle told Gothamist that he was charged a $50 copay up front for his antibody test at the MedRite Urgent Care in Brooklyn at the end of April. He was never told that he could have that cost waived. When he reached out to his insurer, UnitedHealthcare, he was told that he should not have been charged.

Additionally, some testing sites are also providing free tests to patients who are uninsured, while others are charging an out-of-pocket fee.

In the case of CityMD, the urgent care chain is waiving patient costs for the office visit associated with an antibody test, regardless of insurance, but cautions that the labs processing the tests will bill patients separately.

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An Emergency Medical Technician matches the number on a tube to the number on the requisition after accessioning samples during a COVID-19 antibody test drive at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem Mary Altaffer/AP/Shutterstock

CityMD Urgent Care

Locations: CityMD has locations across New York City, Long Island and Rockland and Westchester counties

Labs: Quest Diagnostics and Sunrise Medical Laboratories

Tests: Quest uses the Abbott Architect test (specificity: 99.6%, sensitivity: 100%); a test developed by EUROIMMUN (specificity: 100%, sensitivity: 90%); and the Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics VITROS test (specificity: 100%, sensitivity: 87.5%). All have emergency use authorization from the FDA. 

Sunrise uses the Abbott Architect test and the Roche Elecsys test (sensitivity: 100%, specificity: 99.8%). 

Cost: The patient should not be charged for the office visit, regardless of whether the patient is insured. However, the labs bill for the test separately and charge $50 to $60. If insured, the patient can seek to get that fee reimbursed by insurance.

Results in: 3-5 days

Walk-in OK? Yes

Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care

Locations: The urgent care chain has locations in New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County

Labs: Northwell Health Laboratories

Tests: Northwell is running tests from Abbott (specificity: 99.6%, sensitivity: 100%), Roche (sensitivity: 100%, specificity: 99.8%), Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics (specificity: 100%, sensitivity: 87.5%) and DiaSorin (specificity: 99.3%, sensitivity: 97.6%). All have emergency use authorization from the FDA.

Cost: Patient cost-sharing should be waived under most types of insurance. GoHealth charges $135 for those who are uninsured (including the test and visit).

Results in: 3-5 days

Walk-in OK? Yes. The GoHealth website also posts wait times for each location along with an option to reserve a time slot.

MedRite Urgent Care

Locations: MedRite has locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Rockland County

Labs: Quest Diagnostics

Tests: Quest uses the Abbott Architect test (specificity: 99.6%, sensitivity: 100%); a test developed by EUROIMMUN (specificity: 100%, sensitivity: 90%); and the Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics VITROS test (specificity: 100%, sensitivity: 87.5%). All have emergency use authorization from the FDA.

Cost: Patient costs such as copays and deductibles should be waived under most types of insurance. Uninsured patients will be charged $125 for the office visit and $50 to $55 for the antibody test.

Results in: 3-5 days

Walk-in OK? Yes. You can also register online to get an alert for when to come in.

Somos Community Care

Locations: The Somos doctor’s offices offering tests are located at 757 60th Street in Sunset Park and 1209 Hempstead Turnpike in Franklin Square, Long Island

Tests: RayBiotech Rapid Test Kit (specificity: 92.3%, sensitivity: 84.1%), which can be used to analyze blood samples on the spot rather than sending them to a lab. The test does not have emergency use authorization from the FDA.

Cost: Patient costs should be waived, regardless of whether the patient is insured. 

Results in: Same day. It usually takes 10-15 minutes to get the results of the test and patients are informed “at the point of care or a couple hours later if the team is too busy,” a Somos spokesman says.

Walk-in OK? No, appointment only.

Mount Sinai Health System

Locations: The Mount Sinai Hospital on East 102nd Street in Manhattan and Mount Sinai Doctors Five Towns in Hewlett, Long Island

Tests: Mount Sinai uses a test developed in-house (specificity: 100%, sensitivity: 92.5%).

Cost: Cost-sharing should be waived for patients who are insured and Mount Sinai isn’t currently charging those who are uninsured.

Results in: Usually, 24 hours or less

Walk-in OK? No. People who want to get tested have to fill out a form online. The test is available to members of the public who are willing to donate convalescent plasma to treat people infected with COVID-19. It is also available to Mount Sinai employees and some hospitalized patients if it’s clinically relevant to their care. If someone has a high concentration of antibodies, they then donate plasma at the New York Blood Center.

New York City Testing for the General Public

Locations: There are testing sites in the neighborhoods of Morrisania in the Bronx, East New York in Brooklyn, Upper Manhattan, Concord in Staten Island and Long Island City in Queens

Labs: BioReference Laboratories.

Tests: BioReference is primarily using the Roche Elecsys test (specificity: 99.8%, sensitivity: 100%).

Cost: Free

Results in: 1 to 2 days

Walk-in OK? No. New York City residents who are 18 or older can seek to make an appointment either online or by calling (888) 279-0967. 

What about health care workers and first responders? The city has set up a separate antibody testing initiative for health care workers and first responders in partnership with Quest Diagnostics. There are separate channels for accessing these tests.

New York State Testing Initiative

Locations: New York State is conducting antibody testing on a rolling basis. In the first phase, temporary testing sites popped up at grocery stores and big box stores statewide.

Labs: Wadsworth Center

Tests: The Wadsworth Center developed its own test (specificity: 98.8%, sensitivity: 88%), which has emergency use authorization from the FDA.

Cost: Free

Walk-in OK? Yes, these sites have so far popped up unannounced. Here is an FAQ about the state test.


Have you been treated for COVID-19 and received a bill or explanation of benefits? We want to hear about it! Share your health care bills (COVID-19-related or not) in our interactive database below or email us about health care costs and access issues at healthcosts@gothamist.com. We may write about your experience for PriceCheckNYC.

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