Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19 Testing at Complete Health Partners
Our urgent care clinic offers two kinds of COVID-19 tests: PCR molecular nasal swab tests to identify active infections and IgG serum antibody tests to identify previous exposure to COVID-19. Both of these tests are performed via urgent care curbside visits. At this time our contracted labs can currently process COVID-19 tests in 2-5 days. Patients will be notified of results as soon as results are available.
At this time visits for both PCR and antibody testing for COVID-19 are covered by all major insurance companies and Medicare. Most insurance companies have waived cost-sharing (copays) for COVID-19 as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), however we encourage you to check with your specific plan as this may change at the discretion of the insurance company.
For those without insurance, the cost of a COVID-19 visit with our medical providers is $100 and the tests are currently covered by government funding.
Every patient who visits Complete Health Partners for COVID-19 testing is seen and evaluated curbside from their vehicle by an urgent care provider to determine the best course of action for evaluation and treatment of their symptoms or exposure. While we provide curbside service for our testing, we are not a community drive through testing site, but rather a visit with a healthcare provider. Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 can be the same as signs of other concerning medical conditions such as heart attacks, pulmonary embolisms, and other respiratory illnesses. Every patient’s care is unique and your urgent care provider will work with you to determine your testing needs. Should more in-depth evaluation such as a chest x-ray or EKG, be warranted, you will be brought into the clinic via a separate entrance.
Our team calls each patient with results (positive or negative) as soon as results are available from the lab.
Results are also available in our online patient portal.
A PCR nasal swab test is used to determine if you currently have an active COVID-19 infection. PCR tests identify the presence or absence of the genetic material of a virus. To perform this test, a long swab is inserted up the nostril to collect a specimen from the nasopharynx (the very back of the nose/throat).
Serum antibody testing is used to determine if you have had past exposure to COVID-19. This test involves drawing blood to look for the presence or absence of antibodies to COVID-19. Antibodies are proteins our immune system creates to fight off infection. At this time, we do not know if presence or absence of antibodies will confer immunity to COVID-19. As medical professionals continue to study the virus, we will learn more about what the presence of antibodies means.
Because it takes our bodies days or weeks to develop antibodies to an illness, patients must be symptom-free for 14 days before antibody testing is performed.
Antibody testing should not be used as the sole basis to diagnose or exclude an infection, but rather a piece of information a medical provider can use in conjunction with medical history and symptoms to make an informed diagnosis.
Antibody testing is available for those without current COVID-19 symptoms.
Most patients who have come to us for antibody testing either:
- had an undiagnosed respiratory/flu-like illness earlier this winter
- were sick when COVID-19 testing was not available
- had close contact with someone who had COVID-19 in the past but did not show any symptoms themselves
- had a positive PCR test at least 14 days prior and want to know if they developed antibodies
The sensitivity/specificity of all nasal PCR tests varies depending on many factors such as how the test is performed, the quality of the specimen obtained and how it is stored. False negative rates can vary from 10-30% depending on these factors. Based on the best guidance from the CDC and our team’s experience completing over 1000 tests at our clinic, the Complete Health Partner physicians believe that the highest sensitivity/specificity comes when a sample meets the following conditions:
- Nasopharyngeal sample – collected from the very back of the nose/throat
- Obtained by an experienced medical professional (not a self-performed test)
- Sent to the lab the same day
PathGroup has validated this specific test’s performance vs. paired samples tested for viral RNA. The sensitivity stated in the Diazyme package labeling for the test is 91%; and specificity is 98% for cohorts of 91 and 750 patients, respectively.
Click here for the CDC’s recommendations on quarantine after exposure to COVID-19