Two companies are offering reduced or no cost testing for hepatitis B and C and HIV to ease the financial burden on some 40,000 Southern Nevadans whom health authorities have urged to get tested.
Laboratory Corporation of America, or LabCorp, which operates 12 area patient service centers will waive test fees for both the uninsured and the insured within the affected group, said spokesman Eric Lindblom.
"We will not hold the patient responsible, even if they have insurance,'' Lindblom said Friday afternoon. The centers also will be extending their hours.
Quest Diagnostics, which operates 22 patient service centers in Southern Nevada, has reduced its prices for people who need a test.
Normally, Quest Diagnosics charges $104 for a hepatitis C test, $85.10 for an HIV test and $88.50 for a hepatitis B test, for a total of $277.60.
The prices have been reduced to $35 for a hepatitis B test and $45 for a hepatitis C test. The HIV test cost has not been reduced.
Lindblom wouldn't reveal what LabCorp normally charges for the three tests.
However, in one lawsuit filed in District Court on Thursday against the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, there was an estimate that the tests cost $514 at LabCorp.
Quest Diagnostics spokeswoman Nancy Fitzsimmons said test results normally take 24 to 48 hours to be returned. However, because of the high volume expected in upcoming weeks, it could be a week or more before people get their results. Neither company provided specific numbers of people already tested.
Both Lindblom and Fitzsimmons said Southern Nevadans must get a physician's prescription to get a blood test done.
On Friday, some residents weren't waiting for a letter from health authorities before getting their testing done.
Kathy Lang is one of the 40,000 who authorities believe might have been exposed to illness at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada.
In 2004, she visited the clinic and found out she had ulcers. Last month, she went to her doctor for a physical and found she might have problems with her liver.
Hepatitis C can cause liver cancer and liver failure.
"I'm scared to death," said Lang, as she came out of a Quest Diagnostics clinic.
She was told it probably would take longer than the usual 24 hours to get the results of the test because of the volume of people being tested.
In the meantime, the only thing to do is worry, she said.
And she doesn't just worry about herself. Lang lives with her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter. She is worried that they, along with her boyfriend, also might have been exposed.
Lang, who works at Texas Station, also worries how this will effect her there.
"I greet people every day," she said. "I'm usually a very mellow, easy-going person. But I'm not going to be as happy."