Lab Work and Lab Tests: Everything You Need to Know

Nomi Health
Nomi Health
August 30, 2023

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to your health. Lab tests provide invaluable insights into your health by helping to diagnose conditions, monitor treatments, and even predict potential health risks. As powerful as bloodwork can be, it’s only useful if you actually get it done. With your Nomi Health benefit, we make getting your lab services easy and affordable so you can focus on the test results without the hurdles of finding a laboratory in network.

What is lab work & why should I get it done?

Lab work involves the analysis of various biological samples like blood, urine, or tissue to assess different health parameters. This allows physicians to finetune treatments for current health conditions or spot potential health issues in their early stages, allowing for timely prevention and intervention.

For example, a lipid panel can show your cholesterol levels, a metabolic panel can provide a peek into your kidney function, a complete blood count can detect anemia, and a thyroid test can find markers of thyroid disorders. Lab results can empower you and your healthcare providers to make informed decisions about your care.

What are some common lab tests that my doctor may order?

Lipid Panel: A lipid panel is a blood test that measures various types of fats (lipids) in the blood. It provides valuable information about your cardiovascular health and risk factors for heart disease. A typical lipid panel includes:

  • Total Cholesterol: The total amount of cholesterol in your blood.
  • Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (LDL-C): Often referred to as "bad" cholesterol, high levels of LDL-C are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
  • High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (HDL-C): Often referred to as "good" cholesterol, higher levels of HDL-C are linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
  • Triglycerides: A type of fat that circulates in the blood and can contribute to heart disease risk if levels are elevated.

Metabolic Panel: A metabolic panel is a group of blood tests that provide insights into various aspects of your body's metabolism and organ function. A comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) typically includes:

  • Glucose: Measures blood sugar levels and helps diagnose diabetes or monitor blood sugar control.
  • Electrolytes (Sodium, Potassium, Chloride): These minerals are essential for maintaining fluid balance, nerve function, and muscle contraction.
  • Kidney Function Markers (Creatinine, Blood Urea Nitrogen - BUN): Indicate how well your kidneys are filtering waste products from the blood.
  • Liver Function Markers (Alanine Aminotransferase - ALT, Aspartate Aminotransferase - AST, Alkaline Phosphatase, Bilirubin): Provide insights into liver health and function.
  • Total Protein and Albumin: These markers assess nutritional status and liver function.

Complete Blood Count (CBC): A complete blood count is a comprehensive blood test that examines the three main types of blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It includes:

  • Red Blood Cell Count: Measures the number of red blood cells, which carry oxygen.
  • White Blood Cell Count: Measures the number of white blood cells, which are key components of the immune system.
  • Hemoglobin and Hematocrit: Indicate the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells and the proportion of blood composed of red blood cells.
  • Platelet Count: Measures the number of platelets, which are important for blood clotting.
  • Differential White Blood Cell Count: Breaks down the types of white blood cells, providing insights into immune response and potential infections.

Thyroid Lab Test: A thyroid lab test typically includes measurements of thyroid hormones and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). These tests help evaluate thyroid function and diagnose thyroid disorders such as:

  • Hypothyroidism: Characterized by an underactive thyroid gland and low thyroid hormone levels. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is the most common cause.
  • Hyperthyroidism: Characterized by an overactive thyroid gland and elevated thyroid hormone levels. Graves' Disease is the most common cause.  
  • Thyroid Goiter: To assess hormone production and potential abnormalities.
  • Monitoring Thyroid Medication: Regular testing is important for individuals receiving thyroid hormone replacement therapy.

These lab tests provide valuable insights into various aspects of your health and can assist healthcare providers in diagnosing conditions, monitoring treatment, and promoting overall well-being. The frequency of these tests depends on individual health circumstances and healthcare provider recommendations.

Nurse drawing blood

Why do I have to fast for some lab tests but not others?  

Fasting is required for certain blood tests to ensure accurate and consistent results. The need for fasting depends on the specific markers being measured and how food intake can impact those markers.  

Here's why fasting is required for some blood tests but not for others:

Fasting Required:

  • Glucose and Insulin Tests: Fasting is usually required for tests like fasting blood glucose and fasting insulin. Eating can cause a temporary increase in blood sugar levels, and fasting allows for a baseline measurement of how your body regulates glucose when you haven't consumed food.
  • Lipid Panel: Fasting is sometimes necessary for a lipid panel, which measures cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Fasting minimizes the impact of recent meals on these levels, providing a more accurate assessment of your fasting lipid profile.
  • Glucose Tolerance Test: This test involves fasting and then drinking a sugary solution to measure how your body responds to a sudden increase in blood sugar. Fasting helps establish a baseline before the glucose challenge.

Fasting Not Required:

  • Thyroid Tests: Fasting is generally not necessary for thyroid tests, as food intake doesn't significantly affect thyroid hormone levels.
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC): Fasting is not required for a CBC, as the markers measured (red and white blood cell counts, hemoglobin, platelet count, etc.) are not significantly influenced by food intake.
  • Electrolytes: Fasting is typically not necessary for electrolyte tests (sodium, potassium, chloride), as these levels are relatively stable regardless of food consumption.
  • Liver Function Tests: Fasting is usually not required for liver function tests, as these tests assess enzymes and markers related to liver health and function, which are not significantly impacted by food.
  • Creatinine: Fasting is not required for creatinine testing, which measures kidney function. Food intake does not have a major impact on creatinine levels.

It's important to follow your healthcare provider's instructions regarding fasting requirements before undergoing blood tests. Fasting ensures that the results are accurate and not influenced by recent food intake. If fasting is necessary, your healthcare provider will typically recommend fasting for a specific duration (e.g., 8 to 12 hours) before the blood draw. Always consult with your healthcare provider if you have any questions about fasting or blood test requirements. Drinking plain water when fasting will not affect the test results.  

How can I save on lab tests?

Nomi Health makes getting essential lab tests accessible and affordable. Members with PPO plans receive FREE lab services and those with high deductible plans can save significantly. For example, a lipid panel with a traditional price of $23.41. Through Nomi Health, the same test costs just $3.85, saving you 84%. Similar savings apply to metabolic panels, hemoglobin tests, complete blood counts, and thyroid tests.

What you save with Nomi

Although no one really likes getting blood work done, your Nomi Health benefits strive to make it as painless as possible. Next time your provider orders labs, don't hesitate to reach out to your Care Guides. They are here to make the process of finding lab services near you as affordable as possible and effortless.  

Contact us at or call 1-855-601-1900.

*Nomi Health is a benefit designed as a no-cost employee offering. The IRS requires a federal minimum deductible for designated HSA-qualified HDHP health plans. With these plan types, Employers cannot provide first-dollar coverage prior to the member meeting their federal minimum deductible ($1,500 individual plans/$3,000 family plans for 2023).