Are Expensive ADHD Tests Necessary?

Expensive ADHD Tests
Patient asking his psychiatrist how much the ADHD testing will cost.

Does your provider have the appropriate expertise to diagnose, treat, and manage your ADHD?

Albert Hernandez

September 30, 2022
 Medically Reviewed by Tanya Hernandez, PMHNP-BC
Updated on: October 20, 2022
  5 min read

September 30, 2022
 Medically Reviewed by Tanya Hernandez, PMHNP-BC
Updated on: October 20, 2022
  5 min read


At our practice, we specialize in treating adults with depression, anxiety, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Our patients in and around El Paso, Albuquerque, and Las Cruces, as well as the other areas we service, are happy to be treated by mental health providers who have expertise in diagnosing ADHD. Many of my patients tell me that their primary care physicians (PCPs) referred them for expensive, unnecessary psychological neuro-testing for ADHD. I have even heard that some board-certified psychiatrists do this just to prescribe ADHD medication!

These providers often tell patients that this testing is required to prescribe patients medication such as Vyvanse, Concerta ER, or Adderall XR. This is far from the truth.

An expert ADHD specialist understands the most effective way to diagnose ADHD, and it’s not usually with expensive neuropsychological testing.

ADHD Symptoms

Many adult patients seek treatment when they recognize symptoms of ADHD that are interfering with their lives. These symptoms can include:

  • Inability to organize or start complicated tasks
  • Not paying attention when others are talking to you
  • Having a hard time staying in your seat in situations where sitting still is expected
  • Interrupting or talking over others
  • Irritability
  • Losing important items needed for school, work, or daily activities
  • Talking a lot

It’s common for many adults with ADHD to have struggled with some of these symptoms but have still learned techniques to stay afloat. But, when life circumstances changed for them, their symptoms were no longer manageable. For example, a mother who was able to handle working and taking care of one child, but whose ADHD overwhelmed her with the birth of a second child. Or an office worker who was holding it together at his job with the help of elaborate check-off lists, but who got a promotion and could no longer get all of his tasks done. When adults who have never been diagnosed with ADHD before begin to research why they are struggling at work or home, they might consider that their challenges are caused by ADHD.

Stimulant medications such as Vyvanse, Adderall XR, or Concerta ER are often helpful for adults with ADHD. When people are trying to determine if ADHD medication might help them focus better at work or home, they often reach out to their primary care doctor or a recommended mental health specialist to see how they can get screened for ADHD.

Diagnosis of ADHD

When you’re ready to explore whether or not you have ADHD, you need to be diagnosed by a professional. Providers can choose from a variety of ADHD assessment tools, such as the Test of Variables of Attention (T.O.V.A.) or ASRS-v1.1. Although many assessments can point providers toward the conclusion that a patient may have ADHD, the expertise of the mental health clinician is what confirms the diagnosis.

The provider must talk with the patient to determine current symptoms, family history, and the patient’s personal medical and mental health history.

Expensive neuropsychological testing that may or may not be covered by your insurance shouldn’t be required to make an ADHD diagnosis.

If a provider states that they need this testing to “be sure” that you really have ADHD before they can prescribe you Adderall, Vyvanse, or Concerta, they might not have the level of ADHD experience that you want in a provider.

A good question to ask them at this point is “How many patients with ADHD do you currently treat?” If the number is less than 100 patients, then they have not met the industry standard threshold for being "expert". When not an expert, the provider might reach for unnecessary and complicated ADHD testing for confirmation of a diagnosis. If your provider doesn’t feel comfortable prescribing ADHD medications without making you jump through needless hoops, it’s time to find someone new.

Insurance Considerations

Money is sitting on top of a medical chart.

If your prescriber is requiring neuropsychological testing before prescribing stimulant medication for ADHD, you should also consider the insurance implications when it comes time to fill your medication prescription. Most insurance companies required a board-certified prescriber to fill out a prior authorization before covering a medication like Vyvanse, Concerta ER, or Adderall XR. If a prior auth is needed, your insurance will require the provider to justify why you need the medication and also require the provider to send a standardized assessment scale.

There shouldn’t be a need for neuro-testing that can potentially cost thousands of dollars.

Does your provider need this test because they lack clinical skills or experience to determine if you have ADHD without it? If so, they may not have the ability to properly fill out your prior auth paperwork for your ADHD medication. If this paperwork is incomplete, late, or filled out incorrectly, you may either experience a delay in picking up your ADHD medication, or you may have to pay full price for the medication.

If your prescriber recommends extensive neuropsychological testing before they will prescribe your ADHD medication, it’s important to ask “why?” At Upper Valley Behavioral Health, we serve adults with ADHD in Las Cruces, El Paso, Albuquerque, and other areas of New Mexico. Our clinicians use a straightforward ADHD screening questionnaire and our extensive skills and experience to determine if an adult has ADHD. If you are noticing trouble focusing and irritability that is interfering with your life, please fill out our short application for treatment today to be tested and treated for ADHD.

Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. It does not replace instructions from your licensed prescriber. Please consult your healthcare provider for guidance on your specific medication regimen.

Tags: adhd

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