A1CNow+, home test kits, and nursing clinics
Well, as it turns out, the HbA1C is not quite available as a home test... yet. A Google search turns up several types of "home test" kits, but all except one involves mailing a sample into a lab. The one exception is the A1CNow+, which is made by a company called Metrika, which was purchased by Bayer. It involves a disposable monitor good for 10 tests.
The technology for A1CNow+ has actually been around for a while. In the MedGadget review from 2006, the Bayer Press Release suggests the device will be sold for at home use. As of now, it is actually only available for use in clinics and hospitals. However, I called the customer service reps at Bayer, and they told me it is going to be released for home use in the near future.
The A1CNow+ looks to be a little over $10 a pop. That compares with the mail-in version at around $19-$25 a pop, although it isn't clear from the mail-in kits whether there might be an additional lab charge to get your results back.
If you really want to do an at-home test, you can get a mail-in kit from Amazon. (Also--hush, hush--you can buy the A1CNow+ direct through Amazon, although you shouldn't be able to. The main disadvantage to this is that there is a 1-year expiration, so you would need to go halfsies with somebody else to get your money's worth).
The interesting thing I discovered while looking into this matter, is that there is a whole slew of "home test" or "office test" kits available. For example, check out the second Google hit on A1CNow+. Health Management Systems has two pages of test kits, covering everything from PSA to HDL.
On Amazon, you can buy a monitor that does multiple heart health tests. Why stop there? The sensible thing is to make a monitor that can be used for a variety of tests. And then make a laptop-based system that comes with software that allows you to track and organize multiple patients.
Where is all this heading?
My public health textbook recommends nursing clinics as cost-effective alternative care centers. I think there's something to that, and home/office test kits would be an excellent way to facilitate a one-stop clinic solution. Why pay $100 for a sinlge lab test when you could pay that much for 4-5 office tests? Of course, there's always the reimbursement issue...