Allergy immunotherapy is a long-term treatment that can reduce the immune response to indoor and outdoor allergens.
Doses are administered by allergy shots or under the tongue. Treatments are tailored to individual test results, allergies and patient needs.
Depending on your health insurance plan, allergy immunotherapy may cost as little as a copay (or nothing if your health insurance provider covers allergy immunotherapy). But those without health insurance or high deductibles may shy away from this type of treatment, as allergy immunotherapy can cost upwards of thousands of dollars out of pocket.
So how much do allergy shots cost, anyway? Is allergy medication more expensive than allergy immunotherapy in the long run? And is under-the-tongue allergy immunotherapy less expensive than its in-office cousin?
The cost of allergy immunotherapy depends on your provider, insurance and type of immunotherapy.
Allergy shots are more common in the U.S. than other types of allergy immunotherapy (though sublingual immunotherapy is more common in Europe, particularly France).
It depends! Again, it usually depends on your health insurance, the allergy immunotherapy manufacturer and your doctor.
Health insurance doesn’t cover some types of sublingual immunotherapy, though some plans do cover certain sublingual immunotherapy tablets. Some FSA plans cover allergy plans, such as Curex’s prevention-plus plan.
If you have health insurance, the upfront costs for allergy shots may be lower than at-home immunotherapy costs. If your health insurance covers allergy shots, you may only need to pay a co-pay, or you may not need to pay anything at all!
The biggest downsides to allergy shots include the time investment and possible side effects.
Allergy shots are time-and-labor-intensive. Doses are usually administered weekly during the build-up phase and monthly during the maintenance phase.
Your clinician may ask you to stay for up to 30 minutes after your doses for observation for side effects including anaphylaxis.
When considering allergy shots you should ask yourself if you can really steal away from work or home for the time it takes to get your allergy shot, commute to and from the clinician’s office and tack on up to 30 minutes for observation after your appointment.
Since it takes 6 to 24 months for immunotherapy to work, this is a major time commitment.
Not necessarily — though it can be over time.
Depending on your allergy medication, the severity of your symptoms and your allergy symptoms triggers, you may end up spending more on allergy medication than you do on allergy immunotherapy.
Since there are several different types of allergy immunotherapy (we’ll get to that later!), it’s difficult to determine what is more expensive: allergy medication or immunotherapy. Other factors may also lessen the cost of allergy medication or allergy immunotherapy, too, such as whether or not you have health insurance and your health insurance plan, copay, out-of-pocket costs, and more.
Also, allergy immunotherapy doesn’t always mean that you will not ever spend on allergy medications. For some, it can lead to a resolution of symptoms. For others, it might be that symptoms are less intense and fewer medications are needed only once in a while.
What we can do is look at the costs of different allergy medications and allergy immunotherapy and what these treatments may cost with or without health insurance.
Over-the-counter allergy medication costs vary, depending on the type of medication and the manufacturer.
Most prescription allergy medications are also available over the counter, too. Depending on your health insurance, you may end up paying less out of pocket if you purchase over-the-counter medications.
The most common over-the-counter allergy medications include antihistamines (oral tablets, nasal sprays and eye drops), steroid nasal sprays, and saline sprays and drops.
Many name-brand allergy medications cost around $20 a month.
Side effects such as drowsiness can be one of the main downsides to using allergy medications.
Antihistamine costs vary, depending on the type of antihistamine. There are several popular antihistamine brands and types available, including Claritin (Loratadine), Zyrtec (Cetirizine HCl), Allegra (Fexofenadine Hydrochloride), and Xyzal (Levocetirizine).
These are all also available as generic medications for a fraction of the cost of the brand-name antihistamines.
You don’t need a prescription to purchase any of these antihistamines, though your doctor may still write a prescription for a different antihistamine, and your doctor can guide you about which antihistamine might be best for your symptoms.
Most over-the-counter brand-name antihistamines cost between $17 and $20 for a 30-day supply.
The following prices are approximate; medications may cost more or less, depending on the retailer, sales, coupons, etc.
$19.99 for 30 tablets ($0.67/tablet)
$18.99 for 30 tablets ($0.63/tablet)
$17.99 for 30 tablets ($0.60/tablet)
$35.49 for 80 tablets ($0.44/tablet)
Generic antihistamines usually cost anywhere between $3.99 and $6.99 per bottle.
Several steroid nasal sprays are available both over the counter and with a prescription.
$14.99 for 72 sprays
$17.99 for 120 sprays
Decongestants range in price from $4 to $20, depending on the brand, dosage, and product count.
These medications are generally available over the counter, but your provider may also write a prescription for a stronger decongestant.
Decongestants are also used in combination with antihistamine-decongestant pills your provider may recommend for chronic or acute nasal congestion, sinus pressure or postnasal drip.
People with asthma also often suffer from allergies because asthma is part of the spectrum of allergy diseases.
The cost of bronchodilator and asthma inhalers such as Albuterol, Flovent, Symbicort and Advair, can vary based on your prescription medicine insurance plan. If you have pharmacy benefits, the cost can be up to several hundred dollars for one inhaler. Their generic counterparts cost between $30 and $75 per inhaler.
Anti-inflammatory tablets, such as montelukast cost a little more than $10 for a 30-day supply of 10 mg tablets.
Singulair, the brand name of montelukast tablets, can cost nearly $250 for a 30-day supply of 10 mg tablets.
Again costs can vary based on your individual benefits.
Not necessarily. This depends on the medication and your health insurance plan.
Many insurance companies cover the cost of some common generic prescription medications, such as antihistamines and nasal sprays. You may only need to pay your co-pay when purchasing these medications with insurance. If you don’t pay a co-pay for medications and your allergy medication is covered, you won’t need to pay anything!
Many patients prefer to get a prescription for allergy medication because their health insurance covers these meds.
Before starting allergy treatments, your health care provider will test you to identify your allergic triggers. You may be allergic to both indoor and outdoor allergens.
There are two ways to detect allergies, including blood and skin scratch tests. Skin scratch tests are performed in a provider’s office by a medical professional, while blood tests may be performed at home or in a clinical lab.
Depending on your insurance, deductible and out-of-pocket expenses, you may need to pay for these tests which can cost a few hundred dollars depending on how many tests your health care provider does or orders.
One of the most affordable and convenient types of allergy tests is an at-home allergy self-test kit.
Curex’s at-home allergy self-test can detect up to 36 of the most common indoor and outdoor allergens.
The at-home self-test kit by Curex costs between $129 and $179.
Since you order the kit online and the kit is mailed to your home, you don’t need to spend the time it would take to commute to an allergist’s office or a clinical lab for testing. After you’ve taken your samples, simply mail them to the lab.
There is a two-week turnaround on Curex’s at-home allergy self-test kit results.
The downside? You’ll need to collect your sample (10 drops of blood) with the included lancets. While this may be fine for some, those with a fear of needles may not feel comfortable collecting their own samples.
Skin scratch tests may be performed at a health care provider’s office. Small amounts of allergens are placed and lightly scratched onto the skin and monitored for reactions.
The costs of these tests can vary, depending on whether or not you have health insurance, your health insurance plan, and your medical provider.
If you have health insurance, you could pay as little as nothing for the test if you have no out-of-pocket expenses and the tests are covered by your insurance, (but again, this depends on your health insurance plan). If you don’t have health insurance, you could pay up to $300 or more for the testing depending on how many tests your provider does (not including the cost for the consultation).
Blood tests, such as ImmunoCAP and Immulite tests are highly accurate. These tests are FDA-approved and detect the most common indoor and outdoor allergens.
If you don’t have health insurance, blood tests may cost up to $1,000. If you do have health insurance, they may start at $25 plus your copay (again, depending on your plan).
You also may need to travel to a clinical lab (Quest, LabCorp, etc.) for the blood draw, which also takes time.
Turnaround time is usually at least three to five days.
Another option if you don’t want to do a skin scratch test or go to a clinical lab for a blood draw is an at-home concierge blood test.
Curex’s FDA-cleared ImmunoCAP at-home concierge blood test is performed in your home or office by a phlebotomist. It tests for the 25 most common allergens, and more allergens can be added.
Like a blood test performed in a clinical lab, the at-home ImmunoCAP test reports total IgE and specific allergen IgE.
Results are available in three to five days.
Curex’s at-home concierge test is normally priced at $199, but Curex is offering a steep discount through the end of January, with this VIP concierge allergy test available at $49 through January 31, 2022.
Unlike most allergy medications, such as antihistamines and nasal sprays, allergy immunotherapy doesn’t just treat the symptoms of allergies.
Small amounts of allergens are introduced to the body, training your body’s immune system to develop a resistance to them.
Allergy immunotherapy is available sublingually or subcutaneously, and costs vary between the different types of immunotherapy.
Allergy shots may be covered completely by your insurance or can cost between $10 and $75 per visit depending on your health care provider and copay. Again, this all depends on your health insurance plan, copay and deductible. If you don’t have health insurance, the costs may be higher.
Since allergy shots must be administered by a medical professional, one of the major costs of subcutaneous immunotherapy can be the copay if he or she charges one for allergy shots, and the time spent commuting to and from a clinician’s office.
Allergy shots are administered usually once a week during the build-up phase (and monthly during the maintenance phase). Once on maintenance shots, the recommended treatment time is three to five years. The time spent getting the shots and remaining in the office for supervision can really add up!
And if you miss a dose or if you develop a reaction? Your provider will have to scale back on your dose and build you back up, meaning the whole process may take even longer.
Allergy shots for pet allergies cost about the same as allergy shots for pollen, pests and grasses.
Typically these allergens can be mixed together and given together in one or more shots.
Depending on which allergens you and your medical provider are targeting, it could cost up to $75 per visit without insurance.
Sublingual allergy immunotherapy costs between $65 per month and $150 per month depending on the type of sublingual therapy and your insurance. Sublingual tablets may be less if covered by your insurance.
One of the benefits of sublingual allergy immunotherapy is that this type of immunotherapy may be self-administered at home. Since anaphylaxis is rarer with sublingual allergy immunotherapy, you may not need to administer the doses under the supervision of a medical professional.
Sublingual allergy immunotherapy is administered once a day. Missing a dose may not set you back as much as missing doses of subcutaneous allergy immunotherapy, either. If you miss a dose, touch base with your allergy provider about the next steps, but usually you will simply resume your daily medication.
Curex’s prevention-plus plan starts at $75 per month. Receive immunotherapy medication with free allergy testing at home; talk or text with your clinician, as needed, and get access to low allergy, asthma and eczema medication prices and delivery.
Get a long-term solution to your allergy or asthma symptoms with at-home immunotherapy for $75 per month. You can get started by taking our free quiz, or chatting with a care manager, to answer any questions you might have.