Infection with the Streptococcus bacteria, often known as group A streptococcus, causes strep throat. A fast strep test consists of swabbing the throat and testing the swab. Rapid strep tests are offered by urgent care centers and doctor’s offices.
If the test results are positive, the doctor can prescribe antibiotics. A quick strep test plus a doctor’s visit costs $187 on average out of pocket. The price you’ll pay, however, is highly varied and relies on whether you have insurance, where you live, and whether you require any additional services.
What is Strep Throat?
Strep throat is caused by a highly contagious bacterial infection known as Streptococcus pyogenes – also called group A streptococcus. The infection makes your throat extremely sore, with painful swallowing.
If you have strep, antibiotics are used to alleviate the infection more quickly, prevent worsening of symptoms, and prevent complications, such as rheumatic fever.
Because it easily spreads in groups, strep throat commonly occurs in children and is more prevalent from late fall until early spring.
Symptoms of Strep Throat
The symptoms of strep throat can start suddenly. They include:
- A sore throat and difficulty swallowing.
- Red or swollen tonsils.
- Tiny red spots at the back of your mouth.
- Tender, swollen lymph nodes in your neck.
- Fever or headache.
- Nausea or vomiting (often in children).
- Body aches or chills.
Diagnosing Strep Throat
Many of the symptoms above can be caused by viral infections and other illnesses. That’s why medical professionals will conduct a test to confirm strep. Our MedExpress centers are equipped to test for strep.
There are two tests used to diagnose strep:
1. Rapid antigen test
This is usually the first test performed because it can detect strep in minutes. Your physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner will swab your throat and will test the swab to see if any antigens are present. A positive test means that you have strep.
2. Throat culture
If the rapid antigen test came back negative and strep is still suspected, your physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner may perform a throat culture.
The back of the throat and tonsils are swabbed and the sample is then sent to a lab to be cultured and tested for bacteria. The results may take several days to receive. We will call you as soon as we receive your results.
How Much Does a Strep Test Cost Without Insurance?
Depending on where the test is done, a strep test will usually cost between $20 to as much as $65 for just the rapid strep test.
This won’t include the doctor’s office examination fee if you were to have the test performed at your local doctor’s office If you were to factor in the doctor’s office fee and the strep test, then the costs will be around $135 to $250 without insurance.
If the test were taken inside of an emergency room, then the costs for the test could easily be more than $150. This wouldn’t include the hospital emergency room fee. It’s not unheard of to pay more than $500 to test for strep throat only.
At the CVS Minute Clinic, the costs of a rapid strep throat test would cost $35 for the test, plus you would be responsible for the $89 to $129 visitation fee.
Walgreens, on the other hand, charges $25 for the test and another $89 to $129 for the patient exam.
The test can also be done at home, and these kits can retail for $25 to $45.
The Cost of a Strep Test
Our research team contacted the top 10 urgent care centers in the United States to determine precisely how much a strep test costs at urgent care without insurance.
Urgent Care Cost
We found that the average cost of a rapid strep test without insurance is $187, including the doctor’s visit.
|$181 office visit, call to unique about strep symptoms/ test
|MedExpress/ Riverside Urgent Care
|American Family Care
|$125 office, $35 strep test- Total $160
|ProHEALTH Urgent Care
|$135, including an office visit
|ExpressCare Urgent Care
|MD Now Urgent Care
|$299, including office visit
|CityMD Urgent Care
|$200, including office visit
|$154 office visit, $33 strep- $187 total
|GoHealth Urgent Care
|$120 office visit, $25 strep test- $145 total
At MinuteClinic, a strep test would be considered a minor illness and would cost you between $99–$139.
A strep test at Walgreens will typically cost $59 or more for patients with no existing health insurance.
Many factors influence the price of a strep test at a doctor’s office. However, we’ve found the cost will range between $89- $101.
Hospital or Emergency Room
A strep test would be considered a level 1 visit. Level 1 visits are for minor problems, such as an earache or a strep test. The average cost of a level 1 emergency room visit is $328.
Factors that Influence the Cost of a Strep Test
The out-of-pocket cost for a rapid strep test may depend on the following factors:
- Where the urgent care center or medical care office is located
- Whether or not you need additional prescriptions to treat strep (if strep is detected)
- If the doctor performs additional tests (flu, COVID-19)
- Insurance coverage
Below we answer frequently asked questions about strep throat.
What are the different strains of strep?
Streptococci is a bacterial infection divided into several groups: Group A streptococcus, Group B streptococcus, Group C streptococcus, and Group G streptococcus.
|What is it?
|Sometimes called GAS, tends to affect the throat and the skin. People may carry GAS in these areas yet not show any symptoms of illness.
|A sore throat that comes on very quickly, pain when swallowing, fever, red and swollen tonsils, small red spots on the roof of the mouth, and swollen lymph nodes in the front of the neck.
|Also known as group B strep or GBS, is a type of bacteria that can cause illness in people of all ages, though it can be particularly severe in newborns, most commonly causing sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis
|In adults, the most common health issues caused by GBS include urinary tract infections, skin infections, bloodstream infections, pneumonia, skin and soft-tissue infections, and bone and joint infections.
|Group C &G
|Group C and G strep most commonly live in animals such as horses and cattle and can spread to humans through raw milk or contact with these animals.
|Persistent fever for >7 days. Other respiratory tract infections reported include epiglottitis and sinusitis
When should I get a strep test?
Strep throat is caused by infection with a bacterium known as Streptococcus pyogenes, also called group A streptococcus.
Streptococcal bacteria are contagious and predominantly spread through airborne respiratory droplets or saliva.
You may want to consider getting a rapid strep test if you are having the following symptoms:
- Throat pain that usually has a quick onset
- Painful swallowing
- Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus.
- Tiny red spots on the area at the back of the roof of the mouth (soft or hard palate)
- Swollen, tender lymph nodes in your neck
- Nausea or vomiting, especially in younger children,
- Body aches
If you see a provider at urgent care with any of the symptoms above, they may recommend getting a strep test.
What does a strep test entail?
According to the CDC, only a rapid strep test or throat culture will be able to determine if you have group A strep. A doctor can’t tell if someone has strep throat just by looking at their throat.
A rapid strep test involves swabbing the back of the throat and running a test on the swab. The test shows if group A strep is causing the illness and results and is typically available within 10 minutes.
If the test is positive, doc tors can prescribe antibiotics. If the test is negative, but a doctor still suspects strep throat, the doctor can take a throat culture swab.
A throat culture typically takes 1-2 days to determine if group A strep bacteria are present. While it takes more time, a throat culture sometimes finds infections that the rapid strep test misses.
A culture swab is essential for children and teens since they can get a rheumatic fever from an untreated strep throat infection. It is usually not necessary for adults to do a throat culture following a negative rapid strep test for adults.
Adults are generally not at risk of getting rheumatic fever following a strep throat infection. However, your provider will assess whether it is necessary to get this test based on your symptoms.
What medications might a doctor prescribe if I have strep throat?
Doctors treat strep throat with antibiotics. Either penicillin or amoxicillin is usually prescribed as the first choice for people who are not allergic to penicillin. Doctors can use other antibiotics to treat strep throat in people who are allergic to penicillin.
Benefits of antibiotics include:
- Decreasing how long someone is sick
- Decreasing symptoms (feeling better)
- Preventing the bacteria from spreading to others
- Preventing serious complications like rheumatic fever
Avoiding High Costs When Getting a Strep Test
Seeking help from urgent care can be expensive and non-transparent. Several options can help you reduce your out-of-pocket cost when receiving a strep test, especially if you do not have insurance or your insurance has high deductibles.
It is important to advocate for yourself and understand the factors that affect the potential cost. Outlined below are several questions you can ask to help advocate for yourself.
- How much will the rapid strep test cost?
- If I need a strep culture, how much will it cost?
- Is the STI test the only test I need for today?
- How much will this prescription medicine cost?
- Is there an office visit fee?
- What other administrative fees can I expect?
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