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I'm about due for my first A1C since my insurance stopped paying for it, and am wondering about different ways to have the test done.

Until now I've always just gone to the hospital lab. They draw a little test tube full of blood and send the result to my doctor a week or so later. Now that I have to pay for it myself, this test at the hospital will cost me $105.

Then today I saw a poster at my pharmacy, advertising an A1C test they do with a "simple finger stick." They give you the results in about 5 minutes, and it costs $32.

I've never heard of doing an A1C with a finger stick before. Is it the same test they do at the hospital lab? How can they get an accurate result with so little blood?

Should I continue going to the hospital lab even though it's more expensive, just to be consistent? I've heard that different labs return different results, but so far my local hospital lab is the only place I've ever had the test done.

Thanks for any info.

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My daughters endo does the A1c this way with the finger stick. The 1st endo we saw did a lab draw, but he was also checking for diagnosis. I think mostly they do it w/the finger. My Hubby said the same thing.
What I don't understand is, if it's the same test that they do at the lab – why do they take so much blood at the lab?

And if the test isn't the same, then is one more accurate than the other? Which one is recommended?
The fingerstick one is much like what you would do if you are checking your blood sugar. It takes 5 min to do it. The lab one I am sure is not run the same way. I have had both done within a few weeks of each other. One at my dr's office with the finger stick and then I was in the e.r. about a week later with a persistent high blood sugar and the e.r. dr ran one through the lab by a draw and they were within 0.5 points of each other.
The one done at the lab (at least in the UK) not only provides the HBA1c result, but also tests for cholesterol levels and other diabetes-relevant things. That's why they need so much blood. Not sure if it's the same in the US though!
Most Diabetologists (Doctors specialized in Diabetes care) in Germany have a technical device to accurately measure the A1C. This device just needs the blood from the finger. It is expensive and that is the reason why it is not very common in practices. The price difference for the tests is significant and worth to investigate. In my opinion $32 is a reasonable price. Can you ask for the name of the device used? Maybe I can ask my Diabetologist about his opinion.
Wow, you guys have Diabetologists. Not here in the US!
My doctor uses the finger stick method. When I asked him about it the first time (years ago), he told me the machine was very expensive, but worth it to him so he could discuss while the patient was there.

Fine by me, as I hate waiting! ^__^
For years, I managed my diabetes via a long distance relationship with my endo (I was studying abroad and only had insurance in the USA). I used to buy A1c test at home kits, where I used blood from a finger stick, mixed it with fluid they gave me and put a few drops of the mixture in the testing area. I had the results in 5 minutes.

My doctor suggested that this was as accurate as the machine she used in her office (also using finger stick) and trusted the results. They also usually seemed to match my average blood sugar readings.

These testing kits cost around 20-25 US dollars, but for the past two years, I can no longer find them. I used to buy them at the pharmacy (at CVS, Rite Aid, etc). Some are available for order online, but I have read mixed review about their accuracy. To read a list of tests available by mail, see David Mendosa's website ( http://www.mendosa.com/meters.htm ) and scroll the the very bottom where there is a heading "A1c Meters and Kits".

If I were in your situation, I would choose the $32 option. I think that it should be good enough!

Why not do both this time around? Do the cheaper kit at home right before going to the hospital for that test. If the results are close, then it would seem you've found a reliable/replicable, and cheaper alternative. Sure it will cost you $100 this time around, but you'll save a lot over time, if the home kit winds up doing the trick.

Best of luck to you.

Cheers, Mike
I, like Cody, did both at once. They were within one day of each other. The first was the finger stick. It was 6.5. The next day I had the full lab drawn. It read 6.7. To me that is not enough difference for the price. The endo I use now uses the finger stick and I trust him. I would save the money, but it is, of course, your decision.
I am really glad you asked this question. I am definitely going to give the A1c finger stick a try.
Just to follow up – I did get the finger stick, and wanted to let everyone know that it's a lot less blood than the big tube they take at the hospital lab, but it is NOT the same as the finger stick you do for a test with a glucometer. Instead of taking just a tiny drop that goes on a test strip, they actually stab pretty hard and deep – at least the guy who tested me did, I still have a bruise on that finger three days later! – and they take enough blood to fill a very thin glass tube (it's called a capillary tube, and it's about as big around as a pencil lead), about 3 inches long. So that answered my question about how they could do an accurate test with just a finger stick – because it's a bigger finger stick than I imagined.

The good news is that according to this test my A1C is back down under 6 again. Yay! And it was great to find out the result right away instead of having to wait! I had the result about 15 minutes after he drew the blood.




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