uBiome, found online at uBiome.com, is a new company that is working on a crowdfunded scientific project to chart and understand the microbes at work in our bodies and how we can change or improve them.
How Does It Work?
According to their website, microbes – or the bacteria that live in our bodies – outnumber the cells that live in our bodies 10 to 1. These microbes perform important functions in our bodies, like helping to digest food or synthesize vitamins. Microbiomes have also been linked to mood and behavior, gut health, human development, and metabolic disorders.
uBiome will send you a medical sampling kit with everything you need to submit your own personal microbiome sample. Along with your sample, you will be asked to submit an online survey which askes you questions about your health and your lifestyle.
When your results are ready, you will be able to sign onto their website and see the breakdown of your microbiome. You’ll find the names of all the different types of bacteria in your microbiome, what their functions are in the body, and what your levels of these bacteria are.
Using your personal survey results, you’ll be able to compare your results to others, like smokers or vegetarians, to get an idea of how your microbiome might change with some potential lifestyle changes.
This is not a diagnostic test that is intended to predict health, identify health conditions, or replace a doctor’s advice or consultation. It is simply a large scale health study that is intended to give you and the scientific community a better understanding of this area of health.
They are currently offering three different swab kits. The first is their Gut Kit, which is priced at $89, and they also offer a Gut Time Lapse kit for $199 and is intended to collect three samples over a specific time period so you can see how the changes you are making might be affecting your stomach bacteria. Finally they offer their full Five Site Kit, which allows you to take samples from all major areas of bacterial production in your body: gut, mouth, skin, nose, and genitals. This full kit is priced at $399.
Unfortunately this website actually does not provide any information on their website or in their Terms and Conditions regarding refunds, so concerned customers should contact their Customer Service before making an order if they are worried about their ability to get a refund in unforeseen circumstances.
Customer Service Contact Info
Customers who would like to contact their Customer Service team with questions, concerns, or complaints can do so by email at [email protected], by using their website’s Live Chat feature when it is available, or by scheduling a phone call on their website.
uBiome and organizations like it seem to be at the center of some serious medical ethics debates at this time. There are a few different ways that people have approached the issues with what they are doing, which have been discussed at length in publications like Scientific American.
The short version of these concerns includes the fact that this company is essentially compiling scientific data and asking their customers to pay to participate in their study, rather than asking for volunteers or even for compensating their volunteers, like many other scientific studies do.
This becomes a particularly problematic issue when it is partnered with the promises made on their website compared to the reality of the results you will receive. The uBiome website claims that you will have access to a wide variety of information and tools to understand the sample you have provided.
The truth, according to their critics, is that you are given a set of results that don’t really seem to have any meaning whatsoever. Your results are simply given to you – they aren’t interpreted at all. In addition, being able to compare your results to others who clearly fit into niche groups – vegetarians, smokers, heavy drinkers – isn’t really helpful to understanding what your results mean to you.
While being provided with a set of results that doesn’t give you any real understanding of your body or your health might be frustrating to their customers, the medical community at large is very divided about what this company is doing and whether or not they should be allowed to do it at all.
Competitors and Alternatives?
Though this is a very specific service being offered by this company, there are actually other organizations working with a microbe crowdfunding project, including AmericanGut.org.
If you have experience with this company or their products, please leave your uBiome reviews below.
9 ‘uBiome’ Reviews
This is a scam
They take your money and do not give it back nor give results
I don't understand what anyone is complaining about. I don't have to pay a cent. I have Aetna, then send them the bill, Aetna sends me an EOB, and I get my results. I had two doctors prescribe them to me, so I get two kits in the mail each week, and I get an e-mail when new results are complete. The kid is self-explanatory, quick and easy. I've been tracking the micro's released from my liver and kidney because they're not in great shape. I found out if you take a certain anti-biotic, and can allow a build up of one the 5 very bad bacterias, so I am able to check that too.
I actually like them so much that I would vouch for them, I just wish I could leave my contact info because I think the basket of deplorables above are just making it challenging for themselves.
Got approved they said for Southern CA Kaiser and they sent me my kit. I submitted the completed test (poop) and waited for my test results. But 6 separate emails from 6 different people within their company requesting more personal information that I already had provided. Then when I got my results I could never open them. Lots of different emails sent RED FLAG!! BEWARE.
I got a FREE kit but before I could get my results they wanted $399, I declined noting it was a free trial. I was to pay S&H. Now 7 months later $2900 billed to BCBS on our EOB. Never recieved results and would never recommend this company. I believe it is a huge scam on our insurance companies but they are not addressing it. Sad!
I am shocked!!!!! My insurance sent me a check for their portion of this $2900.00 test. I did get a “result “ if you want to call it that. That should NEVER cost that amount of money, and it says in different areas it costs less than $500.00.
Supposedly they have assistance to pay their fee for the “ pilot program “. I am quite sure I’ll be talking to the NYS attorney general office as well as FACEBOOK about this bullshit.
I have had the most unreal experience with Ubiome. They have sent me 6 kits.... 6 of them all because they couldn't read my results. The final straw was the last kit- it was approved and in the lab. Months go by... not a peep. Now they claim they can't locate the kit and they want to send me another one.... Um, no. I actually feel bad for my insurance carrier...
Beware. Although their site said the sample was for a clinical trial and did not mention any charge, today I received a bill from them for $673.96. I honestly do not remember reading anything about fees when I requested my kit, which makes me wonder if they’ve changed their site recently or have different versions of it linked from ads.
The results were vague and no interpretation was provided—simply a within or outside normal range designation. What is the range and where did my results fall? No idea. Also, it only looks at a handful of bacteria types. It doesn’t test for yeast at all, which is what I was most interested in.
Overall, I would rate this a very misleading marketing ploy, if not a downright scam.
I received an Explanation of Benefits form Blue Shield of California showing they were not paying the $2970 billed by uBiome for "diagnostic pathology". . The lab had received a request to perform work as ordered by a doctor in CA I do not know - I live in Missouri - and for a condition I do not have. Blue Shield is not paying -and i have not heard from the lab involved.
I have not received results. Specimen submitted in mid July - it is now late September.
Looks to me like a way for their lab to bill insurance for a hefty feel. Most insurers will likely deny the charge but if some do then uBiome has won and at $2900 per sample if only one of ten claims gets thru they do very well.
I do not want to get into protracted back and forth over the $2900 pathology fee nor have the bill turned over to direct billing or collection so wish I had never submitted the sample.uBiome states they will accept insurance but won't bill customer.. - I would advise AVOID. If you have a GI issue see and gastroenterologist.