May 24, 2006 - In a non-descript office complex in the Foothills stands a medical lab where patients are flocking by the dozen to get affordable testing for everything from HIV to DNA.

Lab Express Inc., 4747 N. First Ave., has been open for more than three months and a second location at 6121 E. Broadway Blvd. just opened.

Medical laboratories are easy to find throughout Pima County, but what makes Lab Express different from other labs is that Lab Express does not accept insurance.

No insurance premiums to pay means less cost passed on to the patient, said Scott Farrell, president.

"People that don't have insurance can not afford laboratory testing," he said.

Lab Express began in Phoenix and has three locations serving Maricopa County. The labs have been successful there, but Farrell said the need in Tucson for its services are greater than in Phoenix.

"There's a lot of people that don't have insurance here," he said.

Anyone can walk in off the street and get a test done at Lab Express. A doctor is on site to order tests such as routine blood work and urinalysis. Payment must be made at time of services.

In addition to offering cheaper testing, Lab Express banks on putting a patient's health in his or her hands, Farrell said.

"If you pick things up early, you can prevent illness," he said.

Some of the most popular tests can be the most life saving, including testing for prostate health, cholesterol and blood sugar levels and HIV/AIDS antibody testing.

Farrell said he knows of no other place in Pima County where a patient can walk in and receive an $89 HIV test where results are available in 10-minutes or less.

"It can be very harmful not to get tested," he said.

Early detection of any illness is the key to ensuring the health of a patient.

According to a 2003 report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease and stroke are the first and third leading killers. More than 100 people die of these diseases every hour.

Receiving regular blood testing for cholesterol levels in addition to liver and kidney functions can aid in good health, Farrell said.

An EDP test at Lab Express will cost $95. It is a series of more than 60 tests including liver and kidney panels, cholesterol and glucose levels among others.

According to the study, in 2002 nearly 107 million Americans were told they had high cholesterol, and 80 percent with high blood-cholesterol do not have it under control.

With regular testing, even if a doctor does not order it, Farrell believes patients can keep track of their health.

"We actually save a lot of people," he said. "People have a right to know."

Pat Cotty, vice-president for Lab Express, agrees that the more than 2,000 tests offered by the company are a way for patients to get their needs met at an affordable price.

"What one of our competitors charges $600 for we can do for $99," Cotty said. "What you would get from any lab, we are able to do."

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