If your doctor has recommended you undergo diagnostic imaging, you may be anxious about a number of things, including the cost. Scans like CT scans are complex and require expensive, high-tech equipment that may seem daunting. While the ultimate cost of your CT scan will vary based on a variety of factors, it can be helpful to understand what causes prices to rise and what you can expect to be billed.
What Is a CT Scan?
Before discussing cost, it is important to know what a CT scan is and when you may need one. Knowing the importance of the results and potential medical necessity can help you determine if following through with the scan is the best option for you and whether insurance may cover the costs.
A computerized tomography (CT) scan is a series of x-ray images taken at different angles around the body and processed through a computer. The output is a set of cross-sectional images, like slices, of bones, blood vessels, and soft tissues that cannot be seen through x-rays or external examinations. CT scans are recommended to diagnose muscle and bone disorders, locate tumors or infections, monitor disease and conditions, guide procedures, and detect internal injuries.
Each scan is usually performed on a targeted section of the body rather than the entire body.
A CT scan does include brief exposure to ionizing radiation, more than would be present in a traditional x-ray. However, the benefits outweigh the risks for most people.
Factors in Cost of CT Scans
There are a number of factors that may impact the cost of your CT scan.
Location of the scan: Depending on the size of the region being scanned, it may be more or less. For example, an abdominal CT scan may take longer than a scan of a hand and wrist.
Facility: Outpatient centers and doctor offices can often perform CT scans at a lower cost than an inpatient facility such as a hospital. The facility’s geographic location can also have an impact, with more heavily populated areas often offering easier access to machines.
Contrast: CT scans can be performed with or without contrast, a dye that is injected or ingested in order to make results clearer. These are often used in CT scans focused on soft tissue and blood vessels. If this is necessary, it could be another line item on your bill.
Insurance: In general, an insured patient pays less for a scan than an uninsured patient. Depending on your type of coverage, remaining deductible, co-pay or co-insurance, and other factors, an insured patient could owe as little as $0 for a CT scan. An uninsured patient may be able to work out a special self-pay rate with their provider, but it generally costs them more.
Average CT Scan Rates
CT scans will generally cost somewhere between $250 and $5,000, depending on the factors listed above. The national average is $3,275, but this is very different when broken down. An outpatient facility averages $525 per scan, while an inpatient facility averages $4,750 per scan.
You may notice your bill is split into technical and professional fees. These averages are representative of an inclusive cost, including both of these categories as well as overhead.
When Do I Need a CT Scan?
If you are feeling hesitant about the cost of a CT scan, the best thing to do is talk with your healthcare provider about what the benefits and risks may be. Ask them what they expect to get from the scan and how they will proceed based on the possible results. This can help you understand the way your care is impacted by the CT scan and if it is the best thing for you. In most cases, the chance to secure a diagnosis and begin treatment is more cost-effective than waiting for your health to decline further.
At AICA Orthopedics, our goal is to get you the best possible care, including identifying the source of your pain through diagnostic testing. AICA Orthopedics is dedicated to holistic, comprehensive care. Each CT scan is used to inform our team of specialists, and because our scanning is done onsite, results are fast and easily shared.
Whether you have been referred by an outside provider or one of our expert specialists, we are happy to work with you on transparency around cost. With your insurance information, we will provide our best estimate of the cost to help you make informed medical decisions with your team.