How Much Does an Ultrasound Cost Without Insurance in 2021?
The estimated average cost of an ultrasound without insurance is $410, but prices can vary between $100 - $1,000 depending on where the exam is taking place on the body, the state you live in, and the type of facility you visit. Ultrasounds can be used to monitor fetal development during pregnancy, or help diagnose various medical conditions.
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The Cost of an Ultrasound Without Insurance
The cost of an ultrasound without insurance can vary greatly depending on which state and city you live in. The cost of an ultrasound in most cities ranges from about $110 to $370. Prices may be higher in cities than in suburban areas, so looking for a doctor’s office outside of the city may help you save money.
Below is the average cost of ultrasound procedures in several cities in the United States.
Average Cost of Ultrasound By City
|State||Ultrasound Price Range|
|New York, NY||$140 - $350|
|Los Angeles, CA||$140 - $370|
|Miami, FL||$130 - $320|
|Houston, TX||$120 - $300|
|Philadelphia, PA||$140 - $340|
|Phoenix, AZ||$120 - $310|
|Atlanta, GA||$120 - $320|
|Washington, DC||$130 - $320|
|Dallas, TX||$110 - $280|
|Chicago, IL||$130 - $330|
Source: New Choice Health
The cost of your ultrasound can also vary depending on the type of ultrasound you are receiving. Below we list the average costs of ultrasound performed on various regions of the body.
Average Cost of Ultrasound by Body Part
|Ultrasound Type||Ultrasound Price Range|
|Fetal||$290 - $4,000|
|Head and Neck||$160 - $1,600|
|Eye Exam||$210 - $2,000|
|Chest||$290 - $2,400|
|Breast||$160 - $2,250|
|Abdominal||$260 - $1,950|
|Pelvic||$220 - $3,200|
|Hip||$320 - $1,350|
|Spine||$410 - $600|
|Bone||$70 - $900|
Source: New Choice Health
Based on the charts above, it is clear that the price of an ultrasound can vary tremendously based on the type of ultrasound you get and where you live. Below we outline estimated prices for ten different types of ultrasounds in California, New York, and Texas.
Average Cost of Common Ultrasounds By State
|Type of Ultrasound||Estimated Price in California||Estimated Price in New York||Estimated Price in Texas|
|Fetal||$180 - $800||$190 - $480||$200 - $500|
|Abdominal||$140 - $360||$130 - $320||$100 - $260|
|Bone||$30 - $70||$30 - $80||$40 - $110|
|Breast||$120 - $300||$120 - $300||$100 - $240|
|Chest||$260 - $675||$130 - $320||$120 - $310|
|Extremity||$130 - $320||$130 - $320||$100 - $250|
|Eye||$470 - $1,250||$450 - $1,200||$170 - $440|
|Head and Neck||$100 - $240||$90 - $230||$80 - $190|
|Pelvic||$180 - $450||$170 - $440||$140 - $350|
|Spinal||$150 - $370||$150 - $380||$130 - $340|
Source: House of Debt
Factors that Influence the Cost of Ultrasounds
The price you pay for an ultrasound can depend on several factors. Below we explain how bodily region, ultrasound type, location, and type of facility can all affect how much you pay for an ultrasound.
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Bodily Region of Ultrasound
As described in the table above, the part of the body where the ultrasound is performed can determine the cost of the procedure. In general, fetal ultrasounds, pelvic ultrasounds, and chest ultrasounds are more expensive, while bone and spine ultrasounds may cost less.
Keep in mind that for a healthy pregnancy, a woman usually receives around two ultrasounds during the duration of her pregnancy, and the above cost represents just one exam.
Different imaging capabilities can also determine the cost of an ultrasound. The ultrasound devices can either produce 2D, 3D, or even 4D imaging with color. Keep in mind that increased imaging quality and clarity come with more advanced software and thus greater expenses.
According to Radiologist Dr. Daniel Cousin of RADSCURITY, BayView Radiology, and Medscurity Experts, 3D ultrasounds typically cost $75-$125 more than 2D, and 4D ultrasounds cost a couple of hundred dollars more than 2D ultrasounds.
Both the state and city where you receive an ultrasound can determine the price you pay. Prices vary tremendously across the country. For example, an eye ultrasound may cost between $470 and $1,250 in California, but only between $170 and $440 in Texas.
In addition, you should expect to pay more in cities with higher population densities and costs of living, such as New York City and Los Angeles, compared to more suburban areas. If you are choosing a facility based on cost but live in a major city, consider calling around to various locations, or perhaps travel outside of the region for a more affordable rate that fits your budget.
The type of facility where you receive your ultrasound can also determine the cost of the exam. Keep in mind that you may have to pay additional fees for your exam to cover the cost of the office visit, supplies used, or additional diagnostic testing such as lab screenings.
Outpatient facilities are often cheaper than inpatient facilities due to less personnel, supplies and upkeep necessary. Therefore, it will be more affordable to get an ultrasound at an urgent care facility or doctor’s office rather than a hospital. However, if you are experiencing a medical emergency, you should always call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency room.
Ultrasound Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below we answer some common questions regarding the ultrasound procedure and associated prices you may incur.
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What is an ultrasound?
An ultrasound is a medical test used to help diagnose conditions and assess organ damage. Doctors can use ultrasounds to determine the cause of pain, swelling, and infection of the body’s internal organs. Some of the organs that can be examined using an ultrasound include the heart and blood vessels, gallbladder, liver, uterus, eyes, and more. If you are pregnant, you will need to get regular obstetric ultrasounds, which can help your doctor visualize the brain, hips, and spine of your fetus. Oftentimes ultrasounds are also used to help physicians guide procedures such as biopsies or evaluate the damage after a heart attack.
How should you prepare for an ultrasound?
Preparation for ultrasound procedures varies depending on where on your body the exam is taking place. Some scans may require you to refrain from eating or drinking 12-hours prior to the exam, while others may require you to specifically drink a couple of glasses of water before the exam and avoid urinating. Your health care provider will specify any preparation necessary for your ultrasound. For any of the exams, you should wear loose-fitting clothing, as you may be required to change into a gown.
How does an ultrasound procedure work?
Most ultrasounds take between 30 minutes and one hour. A gel is applied to your skin over the area being examined to prevent air pockets that can block sound waves. The gel is water-based and easy to remove but may feel cool initially upon application. A trained technician, also called a sonographer, will then press a device (transducer) against the area being examined and move around to capture images.
Some ultrasounds take place inside of your body. Rather than using the transducer externally, as described above, it can be attached to a probe that is inserted into a natural opening of the body. Examples include a transrectal ultrasound to display images of the prostate, a transvaginal ultrasound showing the uterus and ovaries, or a transesophageal ultrasound inserted into the esophagus to obtain images of the heart.
Are there any risks associated with getting an ultrasound?
Ultrasounds are safe procedures that use low-power sound waves with no known risks. These exams are usually painless, although you may feel slight discomfort as the transducer is pressed against your skin externally. This discomfort is more common in patients that have been required to have a full bladder prior to their exam, or for procedures requiring the insertion of the transducer internally.
Dr. Cousin states that “there are no significant risks of ultrasound exams since it uses sound waves. There is the theoretical risk to a very early tiny fetus of heat damage but that is very unlikely and you'd have to hold the probe in the same position for far longer than any normal exam for that to happen.”
How can you save money on ultrasound exams?
Ultrasounds were shown to save uninsured patients an average of $2,826 when compared to other diagnostic tools. However, even though ultrasounds might be a more affordable diagnostic test compared to other options, they can still be expensive. Here are a few ways to save money on an ultrasound exam:
- Opt for a 2D ultrasound. While 4D ultrasounds might be exciting for new parents to visualize their developing fetus, “they are not medically necessary and unlikely billable through insurance,” says Dr. Cousin.
- If you have insurance, see an in-network provider. It is important to make sure that your health care provider accepts your insurance. Ultrasounds can be significantly cheaper when covered by your insurance.
- Go to an outpatient facility. As long as you are not experiencing any severe symptoms, you should try to go to a doctor’s office or urgent care to get an ultrasound. Getting testing done at facilities is typically less expensive than in hospitals.
- Call multiple facilities. The price of an ultrasound can vary tremendously within a given state or city. Call a few facilities near you and ask about pricing to find the most affordable option.
Ultrasound procedures are safe and can save money when being used as a diagnostic tool over other types of tests. Typically, one can expect to spend between $100-$1,000 on an ultrasound when paying out-of-pocket, but the price largely depends on the type of ultrasound, the location, and the type of clinic offering the exam.
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Ashley Brooks works in Healthcare Consulting and graduates with her MPH in September of 2022 from George Washington University, but graduated with her B.S. in Health Science from James Madison University in 2019. Ashley has been with Mira since June of 2021 and shares the passion for creating affordable healthcare coverage for all!