A hot new health startup just inked a deal with a major insurer, and it could shake up the whole medical testing industry

Theranos, Inc., the hot new health startup that promises it can do blood tests using only a fingerprick, just announced a partnership with Capital BlueCross, a Pennsylvania-based insurer that serves 725,000 customers, Bloomberg News reported.

The move strikes a blow to traditional lab testing companies like Quest Diagnostics Inc. and Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings.

The startup, which is valued at $US9 billion, also plans to open “wellness centres” on the East Coast, according to the company’s billionaire CEO Elizabeth Holmes.

Theranos claims its fingerprick testing is just as accurate as drawing blood from a vein, but costs significantly less. “We want to be the highest-quality, lowest-cost lab service, period,” Holmes told Bloomberg.

The new blood tests will be available to Capital BlueCross customers at its two retail stores, as well as any locations opened by the startup, said Capital’s CEO Gary St. Hilaire.

Theranos won FDA approval last week for its herpes test, an important victory for a company that has been criticised for being secretive about how its blood tests work.

While the deal with Capital BlueCross is its biggest yet, the startup already has partnerships with the drugstore chain Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., as well as contracts with health-care providers like the Cleveland Clinic and Intermountain Healthcare, a 22-hospital system in Utah and Idaho. It also has a deal for two wellness centres located in Arizona.

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