How Much is an Ultrasound Without Insurance?
Ultrasound imaging is a type of diagnostic test that uses sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body. It helps doctors diagnose the causes of pain and swelling and may catch signs of infection and some types of cancer tumors. Ultrasound doesn’t use harmful ionizing radiation, so it may be preferred over CT and X-rays in some situations.
You may have heard it called a sonogram and know that it’s capable of taking detailed images of fetuses in pregnant women. Some say that ultrasound is one of the greatest advancements in radiology over the past 50 years. But like most high-tech medical procedures, it comes with a high price tag. If you need an ultrasound and are planning to pay out of pocket, you probably want to know: How much is an ultrasound without insurance?
Before we go into specific pricing information, please note that while we strive to collect and provide the most accurate data, health care pricing changes frequently. According to price transparency rules, hospitals are technically required to make these costs easily accessible to you, but those rules aren’t always followed.
The prices listed here are current as of January 2022. For the most up-to-date prices on ultrasounds from health care providers in your area, use the Compare.com procedure cost tool.
How Much is an Ultrasound Without Insurance?
According to our data collected from real health care providers, the average cash price for an ultrasound is $630. The lowest recorded cost reported for an ultrasound was $9. The highest cost was a whopping $37,050, although that was a statistical outlier — the next-highest cost was $5,626.
The average cost depends on the type of ultrasound you need, the equipment required, and where you’re located. According to research, the price of an abdominal ultrasound in Florida may cost “308% higher than the national average.” The same procedure in New Jersey, however, costs “57% below the national average.”
The same source noted that states with the most expensive ultrasound fees were on average:
- Florida: $2,295
- Texas: $1,269
- Delaware: $1,155
- Arizona: $1,125
- California: $1,121
Cities with the highest maximum charges for ultrasounds were:
- Houston: $3,536
- Miami: $2,658
- Los Angeles: $2,229
- Dallas: $2,204
- Phoenix: $1,498
- Philadelphia $1,350
Besides New Jersey at $319, the states with the lowest costs were:
- Montana: $351
- Louisiana: $358
- Hawaii: $365
- West Virginia: $385
Types of Ultrasound Procedures
A diagnostic ultrasound is a safe medical imaging scan that uses low-power sound waves to create images of internal organs and body parts. Unlike other types of radiology such as CT scan and X-ray, ultrasound poses no known risks.
During your ultrasound procedure, a radiology technologist or sonographer will apply a gel on your skin near the scan area. Then, they use a probe, also called a transducer, on the gel. As sound waves attempt to pass through the soft tissue, fluid, and bone they bounce back at varying rates depending on the tissue density. Computer software in the ultrasound machine uses the reflected sound waves to create an image.
A pregnancy ultrasound or fetal ultrasound is an imaging test that uses sound waves to monitor a baby while it is growing and developing in the womb and to evaluate reproductive structures like the placenta, the cervix, and uterus. Very early in pregnancy, sonograms are performed using a transvaginal ultrasound. Later in pregnancy, abdominal ultrasounds are preferred.
3D ultrasounds and 4D ultrasounds create photorealistic images of babies in the final trimester. These multidimensional ultrasounds are elective and do not require a doctor‘s order to obtain, therefore, health insurance doesn’t cover the charges.
Pelvic ultrasounds are used to check the female pelvic organs during and outside of pregnancy. For men, pelvic ultrasound may be done to check the seminal vesicles and prostate gland.
Ultrasound is a fast and painless way to evaluate the thyroid gland, which is in the front lower portion of your neck.
This type of ultrasound produces pictures of the internal structures of the breast. Similar to a mammogram, a breast ultrasound may help diagnose changes in breast tissue consistent with benign tumors and cysts, as well as cancer. Doctors may order a breast sonogram for women who have had an abnormal mammogram, previous cancer, and who are planning to have breast implants or breast reduction surgery.
What is Ultrasound Therapy?
You may have heard of ultrasound therapy (UT). With similar terminology, it can get confusing, but UT is different than a diagnostic ultrasound. The prices will differ from what we discuss in this article.
Physical therapists, occupational therapists, and athletic trainers use UT to treat deep tissue injuries with the goal of restoring range of motion to joints and speed up healing. Unlike a diagnostic ultrasound, UT uses ultrasound waves to administer deep heat to tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints. Similar ultrasound technology is also useful for treating kidney stones.
Out-of-Pocket Costs for Ultrasound With Insurance
We’ve answered how much an ultrasound is without insurance, so now let’s look at pricing with insurance. Because the fact is, even if you have insurance, you’ll probably still have to pay some of the cost of the ultrasound out of your own pocket. Depending on your insurance plan, you may owe a copay, coinsurance, and possibly a deductible.
A copay is a fixed amount you’ll be expected to pay when you have your ultrasound. Most health insurance copays range between $10 and $50. Coinsurance is a percentage and could cost from 10-50% of the total bill.
The deductible is a fixed amount you have to pay toward the covered charges before insurance will start paying. If your insurance has a deductible that hasn’t been paid, you owe that amount.
The best way to ensure you don’t get stuck with a surprise bill is to follow your insurance company‘s network guidelines, including obtaining a referral and using in-network ultrasound providers. And remember, the only way to know for sure how much insurance coverage you have is to contact your health plan provider.
Cost Saving Tips for Ultrasounds
It’s important to understand how much an ultrasound is without insurance, so you can prepare in the event you need one. However, you can’t predict the unexpected. Here are a few tips that may save you money.
- Avoid going to a medical center, hospital, or emergency room for your ultrasound.
- It is much cheaper to have any diagnostic imaging test done as an outpatient, and when possible, at a free-standing radiology center.
- Shop around for the best prices. Use the Compare.com pricing tool to find the lowest ultrasound costs in your area.
- To avoid debt, try negotiating a lower price.
- Asking for a cash discount may work. Many health care providers will be happy to avoid potential collections down the road.
- Book your ultrasound through a medical school or clinic where student radiologists intern.