How Much Does a CT Scan Cost? (Insured, Uninsured, & Medicare)
Getting medical treatment can sometimes be intimidating, even before you consider the cost. If your doctor or medical care provider has ordered a CT scan, or “CAT scan,” that means your doctor is about to get a better glimpse at what’s bothering you in order to provide more targeted treatment. A CT scan is an outpatient procedure that takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.
Read on to learn about how much a CT scan could potentially cost, and discover some ways you could potentially save on this safe and extremely beneficial procedure.
What is a CT Scan?
CT scan stands for computed tomography scan, a single image that combines multiple X-rays taken from all around the body from varying angles. These cross-sectional pictures, sometimes referred to as slices, provide doctors with detailed images of blood vessels, bones, muscle, nerves, fat, and other soft tissues in your body.
Some types of CT scans allow doctors to take a closer look at specific body parts, tumors, and how previous traumas or medical procedures are healing, such as heart attacks and surgeries.
CT scans can be used to:
- Look for fractures to bones
- Look for injury to soft tissues or organs
- Plan surgeries or diagnose their outcomes
- Understand why a patient is having chest pains
- Diagnose cancer
A CT scanner is much like an MRI machine and other medical imaging tools. Patients are sent into a tube-like structure on a mechanical bed, where photos are taken. CT scans are frequently taken at medical imaging centers or radiology centers that also offer MRIs, X-rays, and ultrasounds.
Depending on your health care provider, whether or not you have health insurance, and how regularly you need CT scans done during the course of treatment, the cost of CT scans can add up.
How Much Does a CT Scan Cost?
The average cost of a CT scan can range from anywhere between $300-$6,750, with a fair price being around $525. You can find the average cost of a CT scan in your neighborhood by using our simple procedure cost comparison tool:
The price of a CT scan can be broken down into two sources: technical cost and professional cost. A portion of all fees charged for CT scans goes toward annual costs of upgrades and maintenance of the scanning machinery itself. Professional costs related to CT scans go to pay the people who operate the machine and examine your results.
The total cost of a CT scan is dependent on your specific health insurance plan, and whether or not you are on Medicare. If you do not have health insurance coverage, the cost of a CT scan is likely to be higher. Let’s break down each scenario.
Cost of a CT Scan With Insurance
When CT scans are medically necessary, either due to an emergency or as preparation for a medical procedure, they are typically covered by most health insurance policies. That said, many policies dictate that patients meet their deductible before health insurance coverage for a CT scan is available.
Insurance companies are the main influence on what you will be charged for a CT scan. Whenever possible, utilize radiology care and medical centers that are in your insurance network to avoid excess costs. In addition, find out the cost of a CT scan prior to getting it so you’ll know the cost ahead of time.
Choosing a health care plan through healthcare.gov can provide you with income-based medical insurance that could significantly reduce the cost of a CT scan.
All ACA Marketplace health insurance plans cover an expansive list of preventive services without charging you a copayment. Many of these preventive services that can require medical imaging include:
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm (one-time screening)
- Lung cancer screening (for adults age 50 to 80)
- Tuberculosis screening
In fact, a CT scan can often detect lung cancer in current and former smokers between the ages of 50 and 80 before symptoms appear.
Cost of a CT Scan With Medicare
Coverage for CT scans through Medicare depends on which type of Medicare coverage you have. CT scans are not covered under Medicare Part A. If you have Medicare Part B Medical Insurance, medically necessary CT scans ordered by an approved physician are covered up to 80% of the full cost, with the patient responsible for the other 20%.
Patients who have a doctor or facility for a CT scan that does not participate in Medicare may be responsible for the cost of the procedure. In addition, CT scans that are undergone in the outpatient department of a hospital typically require patients to pay a copayment at the time of the procedure.
Cost of a CT Scan Without Insurance
If you or your family member does not have health insurance coverage and are wondering how much a CT scan costs, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that paying out of pocket for the procedure is the most expensive option.
A CT scan can typically cost between $500-$3,000 out of pocket without insurance coverage.
Self-pay for medical services can be very expensive, particularly when patients get on a payment plan and accrue interest on the initial cost of treatment.
Those without health insurance coverage are encouraged to seek out the lowest procedure cost available to them and set up a payment plan with their hospital or health care advisor prior to undergoing their CT scan to make sure that the cost of their procedure doesn’t become a financial burden.
Make sure the CT scan is absolutely necessary. Evidence is growing that many pre-surgical tests are unwarranted for common operations, and are an unnecessary demand on the time of providers while inflating costs for patients.
Additional Factors That Can Impact CT Scan Cost
If you are in need of a CT scan in a non-emergency situation, compare the cost between your hospital or health care provider and those at an independent imaging center. Independently owned imaging centers have qualified professionals who are experienced in CT scan administration and technology.
Since these centers are dedicated solely to medical imagery, their costs tend to be lower. Medical imaging centers that are independent of hospitals incur lower overhead costs because imaging services are their specialty. The purchase, maintenance, and operation costs of their medical imaging equipment is split between a larger number of patients.
The average price for CT scans is 70-149% higher at hospitals than at medical imaging centers, according to the Healthcare Financial Management Association.
Find the Best Price for a CT Scan
Looking for the price range of a CT scan in your city? The Compare.com medical procedure cost comparison tool allows you to survey the cost of services like CT scans, X-rays, MRIs, and more at different facilities in your local area.
Disclaimer: Compare.com does not offer medical advice and is in no way a substitute for any medical advice received from health professionals. Compare.com is unable to offer any advice on any medical procedure you may need.