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Is At-Home Testing Worth It? A Registered Nurse’s Full Review Of This Popular Test Kit

Author:

Amanda Lundberg, RN

Medical reviewer:

Bindiya Gandhi, M.D.

January 24, 2023

Registered Nurse (RN)

By Amanda Lundberg, RN

Registered Nurse (RN)

Amanda is a registered nurse with over a decade of experience in clinical nursing and a member of the Association of Healthcare Journalists.

Medical review by

Bindiya Gandhi, M.D.

Physician

Dr. Bindiya Gandhi is an American Board Family Medicine-certified physician who completed her family medicine training at Georgia Regents University/Medical College of Georgia.

Image by Everlywell

January 24, 2023

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Whether you’re screening for hormone disorders or making sure your cholesterol levels are within a healthy range, at-home testing is becoming the preferred method of analysis. As a registered nurse, I prioritize safe and convenient testing options–so I jumped at the chance to give the Everlywell thyroid and vitamin D tests a try. Below, find my honest review of Everlywell, with details on which tests are offered, the sample collection process, who should try Everlywell, and who might want to skip it.

Everlywell Thyroid Test$149

Everlywell Vitamin D Test$49

What is Everlywell?

Everlywell’s innovative kits provide accurate results and make at-home testing affordable, simple, and personalized. The brand offers a wide range of tests that can be self-administered from your own home. With options such as STD screenings and food sensitivity tests, you can find the right test for you, depending on your health curiosities or concerns. What’s more, the brand will even connect you with a certified clinician if further analysis or interpretation of results is needed.

At-home tests are cost-effective, convenient, and allow users to take responsibility of their health, without visiting a doctor’s office or a lab. In fact, these tests have been so popular that the at-home testing kits market is expected to rise by 6.1% by 2029.

All that considered, it’s important to remember at-home tests are not made for diagnosing. These tests should not replace regular visits to your physician. Rather, they exist to provide users with information and insights into their health and well-being. When considering at-home testing as an option, be sure to stay mindful of this, and take action with relevant follow-ups.

Image by Everlywell

How does Everlywell work?

Everlywell has a streamlined process for home testing and made it more accessible. To get started, you need to order a test directly from their website. The tests can often be covered by HSA and FSA accounts, but make sure to confirm your coverage with your insurance carrier.

Once you receive your kit, the first step is to get it registered by simply scanning the kit’s QR code in the brand’s free app. The step-by-step sample collection instructions are succinct and clear. Just keep in mind, a blood spot sample can be difficult for some, as each circle needs about two to three drops of blood. My advice: keep the card lower than your waist (not on a counter), so gravity can help produce enough blood to fill the circles.

Once your sample is collected, you’ll simply ship the whole kit back with the prepaid label included in the packaging. I did not receive any tracking information, but eight days later an email alerted me that my sample was being processed. Seven days after that, I received another email that my results were ready.

Results are viewable in the Everlywell app, and are neatly organized and easy to read. A colored line signifying low, normal, and high levels makes it simple to understand where your levels land. Scrolling further down, the “next steps” and recommendations are also clear, but I found mine to be quite generic. At the very bottom of the results page is a pre-recorded 13-minute educational video detailing information about the test. There was no prompt to schedule a personal consultation with a healthcare provider–however, that option is available as an add-on through the brand’s website.

What tests does Everlywell offer?

Everlywell’s tests rely on a collection of sample methods, including blood, stool, saliva, vaginal swab, and urine. Depending on the type of test, samples must be taken on certain days and times, such as first thing in the morning after fasting.

When it comes to food sensitivity tests, caution is key. While tests promising food sensitivity detection without the guidance of an expert may be enticing, there are concerns about the lack of robust research on the tests–in other words, they are likely not the most reliable way to measure sensitivities.

Always discuss test results with your medical provider and not interpret testing alone.

Types of tests:

Nutritional Health: Food Sensitivity, Food Sensitivity Comprehensive Test, Metabolism, Food Allergy, Celiac Disease Screening, Vitamin D and Inflammation, Vitamin DGeneral Wellness: Thyroid, Cholesterol and Lipids, HbA1c, Indoor and Outdoor Allergy, FIT Colon Cancer Screening, Heart Health, Sleep and Stress, Lyme Disease, Heavy MetalsSexual Health: STD Screenings, Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, HPV, Trichomoniasis, HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis CWomen’s Health: Women’s Health, Fertility, Perimenopause, Ovarian Reserve, Post MenopauseMen’s Health: Total Testosterone, Men’s Health

Everlywell tests we tried:

Collection Method: Finger prick for blood

Coverage: EverlyWell can provide an itemized receipt to submit to your HSA/FSA benefits coordinator for reimbursement. However, the brand does not guarantee it will be considered a qualified medical expense per the IRS.

Payment/Subscription Options: Offers monthly, quarterly, or bi-annual subscriptions. However, you cannot mix and match tests with this subscription.

Checks Levels Of: TSH, Free T3, Free T4, TPO Antibodies

Result Time: 2 weeks

Everlywell’s Thyroid Test is designed to detect the presence of the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), along with Free T3, T4, and TPO antibodies, which may indicate the presence of an underactive or overactive thyroid. This test can be administered without having to visit a doctor’s office, and only requires a small prick for drops of blood.

We’ve chosen this as one of the best thyroid tests, and when it comes to accuracy, Everlywell tests compare favorably to traditional testing. Each of the brand’s tests adhere to clinical laboratory standards so as not to sacrifice precision for accessibility. Everlywell also offers follow-up wellness support for those seeking out additional insight or next steps.

The health of your thyroid impacts a whole host of bodily functions, including your digestion, immune system, and energy levels. If your thyroid is not functioning properly, you could experience symptoms such as weight loss, weight gain, or general irritability. However, more than 60% of people with thyroid disease do not know they have it. An at-home test can help give you a better understanding of how healthy your thyroid is, but any abnormal results should be discussed with your physician.

Vitamin D Test

Collection Method: Finger prick for blood

Coverage: EverlyWell can provide an itemized receipt to submit to your HSA/FSA benefits coordinator for reimbursement. However, the brand does not guarantee it will be considered a qualified medical expense per the IRS.

Payment/Subscription Options: Offers monthly, quarterly, or bi-annual subscriptions. However, you cannot mix and match tests with this subscription.

Checks Levels Of: Vitamin D (25-OH D)

Result Time: 2 weeks

One of the best ways to test your vitamin D from home, Everlywell’s Vitamin D Test collects a tiny sample of blood to measure Vitamin D levels in your body, providing an easy-to-understand report, outlining the next steps as needed. As with the brand’s other tests, these results will be just as accurate as those performed at a doctor’s office. When done properly, Everlywell’s Vitamin D Test is highly reliable and makes it easier than ever to understand more about your health from the convenience of home.

As you may already know, Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient, and impacts our bone, gut, and thyroid health, among other things. It’s also one of the most common vitamin deficiencies in the world. A home test such as this is a great way to gain insight into where your vitamin D levels are. From there, be sure to load your plate with foods that are rich in vitamin D, and (most importantly) get adequate amounts of sun exposure. If a deficiency is detected, you’ll want to consult your doctor for more personalized next steps.

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My experience with Everlywell:

Overall, I had a positive experience with Everlywell. The website was user-friendly, shipping was fast, and the directions were clear. As a healthcare professional, the sample collection was intuitive for me–but a video tutorial or demonstration would make the process even simpler.

What I struggled with was the lack of any indication that the lab had received my sample or that it was en route; I had to wait eight days for an email confirmation, and it took some time before I heard back from Everlywell with my results. When the results finally did arrive, I appreciated how clearly they were laid out, but would have liked the recommendations to be a bit more personalized.

As a nurse, I trust Everlywell because their labs are certified through CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) ensuring that test results produced by Everlywell are accurate and reliable.

Image by Everlywell

Who is Everlywell good for?

According to Dr. Quijano-Vega, a medical doctor and endocrinologist recommends at-home testing for:

Those who are unable to commute or do not have access to a clinical laboratory facilityThose who have doctors that are unwilling to request specific lab testsThose who do not have insurance and are unable to afford traditional lab testsThose experiencing symptoms of that the at-home test can help diagnose

Who should skip Everlywell at-home tests?

Quijano-Vega says some people are better off going the traditional route, by seeking help from their healthcare provider and traditional lab orders. She recommends this for:

Those looking for more markers beyond what the at-home kit can offerThose who have full lab coverage by insurance , which is quite rare

How much does Everlywell cost?

Everlywell’s prices are competitive with other leading companies. With great value and quality, these tests truly do give you the most for your money. The brand now offers the option to purchase a standalone telemedicine visit, which costs $59 without insurance, or between $10 to $50, depending on your coverage plan.

The test kits range in price, but shipping is always free (both ways). Below, find a breakdown of each test’s costs.

Nutritional Health

Food Sensitivity $199Food Sensitivity Comprehensive Test $299Metabolism $99Food Allergy $149Celiac Disease Screening $119Vitamin D and Inflammation $99Vitamin D $49

General Wellness

Thyroid $149Cholesterol and Lipids $49HbA1c $49Indoor and Outdoor Allergy $199FIT Colon Cancer Screening $49Heart Health $99Sleep and Stress $199Lyme Disease $109Heavy Metals $199

Sexual Health

STD Screenings $169Chlamydia and Gonorrhea $69HPV $49Trichomoniasis $69HIV $69Syphilis $69Hepatitis C $69

Women’s Health

Women’s Health $249Fertility $149Perimenopause $99Ovarian Reserve $49Post Menopause $99

Men’s Health

Total Testosterone $69Men’s Health $249

Image by Everlywell

FAQ:

Are Everlywell tests accurate?

Everlywell partners with CLIA-certified labs. As long as you follow the instructions correctly, the brand’s claim for accuracy is comparable to traditional testing methods. Considering that no lab can claim 100% accuracy, the results from Everlywell are just as accurate as traditional lab testing.

Is Everlywell from Shark Tank?

You might remember the episode on Shark Tank from November 2017 when Everlywell founder and CEO Julie Cheek sought additional funding for the Austin-based startup. Securing “shark” Lori Greiner as an investor allowed Everlywell to make incredible strides to grow the company.

Does Everlywell keep your DNA?

Everlywell holds onto any unused sample specimen for one to two weeks in the event retesting is needed. Following this, the sample is disposed of appropriately per biological specimen disposal standards.

Are Everlywell tests FDA-approved?

No, Everlywell tests are not FDA-approved. However, the COVID-19 test in particular has been authorized for emergency use by the FDA.

Everlywell vs. Competitors

LetsGetChecked

LetsGetChecked is a direct competitor with Everlywell, offering over 30 at-home testing options. It was one of the first brands to offer virtual consultations to review results (for an extra charge). The brand’s costs and tests are similar to Everlywell, however, LetsGetChecked does not have food sensitivity panels and does not sell supplements directly from its site, while Everlywell does.

For more information, read our full LetsGetChecked review.

Imaware

Imaware offers fewer test options than Everlywell. The brand says by focusing on less tests, it is able to provide more actionable, detailed information, with clear, easy-to-read results. Just know, you may have to wait over a week for your sample to be processed. The company is only reachable through email, so if you have any questions mid-test, you are pretty much on your own.

Everlywell Thyroid Test$149

Everlywell Vitamin D Test$49

The takeaway.

Nowadays having access to health services is of utmost importance and Everlywell offers just that with its variety of tests. Everlywell is a reliable and affordable home testing option, and is unsurprisingly one of the most popular choices among consumers (as evidenced by its ever-growing customer base and positive reviews). To continue exploring the world of home testing, check out our picks for the best at-home vitamin deficiency tests, at-home microbiome tests, or at-home hormone tests. Your results may provide valuable insight into your health.

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