Why Are CT Scans So Expensive At The Hospital?
Getting a CT (computed tomography) scan is bound to be expensive, but why are they so expensive at hospitals? There are a couple of reasons that help explain, but you need more than an explanation – you need a solution for how to reduce that cost. The cost of a CT scan can vary based on where your scan is performed, your insurance coverage, what part of your body is being imaged, and many other factors. Let’s break them down together.
Cost Breakdown Of A CT Scan
The high cost of a CT scan can be broken down into a technical fee, professional fee, and facility fee. The CT machinery is expensive to begin with, then the room that houses the CT machine is also expensive to build, and the technologists who interpret the images must be paid. A new CT machine can cost as much as $300,000. Beyond those necessary costs, some hospitals increase the prices of their CT scans to pay for emergency room care or treat patients who might not be able to pay their medical bills.
Independent medical imaging centers offer lower prices because they are solely focused on imaging, unlike hospitals, where various medical procedures happen. At South Jersey Radiology, your CT scan may not only cost 60% less than hospital facilities, but we also make you a priority and a patient first rather than a number. The true cost of a CT scan ranges from $270-$5,000. This range accounts for prices for different areas of the body. Without insurance, a CT scan costs an average of $2,000.
CT scan prices can vary a good deal depending on what part of the body is being scanned. A head CT will show the skull, brain, sinuses, eye sockets, and more. It will cost between $825 – $4,800. A CT scan of the neck shows muscles, tonsils, airways, adenoids, thyroid, and other glands. A head and neck CT scan will cost around $1,000 – $7,600.
A CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis will show obstructions, kidney stones, hernias, infections, tumors, and aneurysms. A doctor might use this scan to diagnose things like abscesses, appendicitis, certain cancers, IBS, pancreatitis, and more. An abdomen and pelvis CT scan will cost around $750.
These costs are all steep, so here’s where the solutions come in: CT scans are usually covered by insurance when they are deemed medically necessary. SJRA is in-network with 99% of insurance providers to ensure you get the care you need at a cost you can afford. If your insurance denies your claim, it is likely that they believed you did not need a CT scan for a medical reason. In this case, talk to your doctor about how to show your insurance that your CT is recommended to help diagnose, treat, or monitor a medical condition.
Why Would My Doctor Order A CT Scan?
There are many reasons why your doctor might order a CT scan, but it will likely be used as a diagnostic tool or a way to monitor your body’s response to treatment. A CT scan can diagnose many different illnesses, ranging from bone and joint problems to internal bleeding, tumors, infections, to brain injuries.
A CT scan gives your doctor detailed images of parts of the body, blood vessels, bones, soft tissues, muscles, and organs. While a CT scan doesn’t show all possible problems, it will give your doctor much-needed information on how to get you the care you need. In some cases, CT scans do not offer as much detail as other scans might – this can sometimes lead to misdiagnosis or missing certain cancers or tumors.
What Are The Differences Between An MRI Scan & CT Scan?
Another scan that offers similar results to CT scans would be an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). These scans may offer similar results, but there are a few key differences. A CT scan uses ionizing radiation to capture the images, while an MRI uses magnets to scan the patient’s body. CT scans can show larger areas of the body compared to an MRI, which provides more detailed images and the ability to diagnose more diseases. A CT scan is also faster and cheaper than an MRI. While both imaging techniques have their advantages, they also have disadvantages. An MRI can be damaging if the patient has metal in their body, while a CT scan requires an infinitesimal amount of radiation to enter the body to capture the images required. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about why they ordered one scan over another.
How Do I Prepare For A CT Scan?
Preparing for a CT scan is easy: you can eat, drink, and medicate normally on the day of your scan, refraining for about 3-4 hours before your scan if possible. The way you prepare may be different depending on what part of your body is being scanned and if you are getting a CT scan with contrast. Remove anything metal from your person before your scan.
The scan itself will take about 30 minutes. During the scan, you will lie on a metal table and the scanner will move around you to capture the images required. You’ll be provided with pillows and an intercom to speak with your technician during the process. It’s important for you to stay as still as possible during the scan so you won’t end up with blurry images. Your CT scan results will be sent to your doctor within 24 hours of your scan. Your doctor will contact you and schedule a follow-up appointment to create a treatment plan. If your results show an emergency, your technologist will immediately get you the care you need.
The most efficient way to save money on your CT scan is to choose an outpatient imaging center, like SJRA, where you will be a priority rather than a number. At South Jersey Radiology, we’re able to offer prices that are 60% less than those of hospitals. Call us today to schedule an appointment at any of our following locations:
- Greentree Office – Marlton, NJ
- Haddonfield Office – Haddonfield, NJ
- Turnersville Office – Turnersville, NJ
- Voorhees Office – Voorhees Township, NJ
- Route 73 Office – Voorhees Township, NJ
- Washington Township Office – Sewell, NJ
- West Deptford Office – West Deptford, NJ
Learn more about the board-certified sub-specialized radiologists who read and interpret studies at SJRA here.
The high cost of a CT scan at hospitals can be attributed to several factors, including the technical fee, professional fee, and facility fee. CT machinery and the construction of dedicated rooms for the machines are expensive. Additionally, the expertise of the technologists interpreting the images adds to the cost. Many hospitals also increase CT scan prices to cover expenses related to emergency room care or treating patients who cannot pay their medical bills.
Independent outpatient imaging centers, like South Jersey Radiology, offer lower prices compared to hospitals. These centers focus solely on imaging services, resulting in cost savings. At SJRA, CT scans may cost up to 60% less than hospital facilities, while prioritizing patient care and experience.
CT scans are a medical imaging technique used to monitor the body's internal structure. They provide detailed images of various parts of the body, including blood vessels, bones, soft tissues, muscles, and organs. CT scans can help diagnose conditions such as bone and joint problems, internal bleeding, tumors, infections, and brain injuries.
MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) offer similar results to CT scans but utilize magnets instead of ionizing radiation to capture images. CT scans are better suited for imaging larger areas of the body, while MRI scans provide more detailed images and the ability to diagnose a wider range of diseases. CT scans are faster and generally more affordable than MRI scans. The choice between the two scans depends on the specific medical needs and considerations of each patient.
Preparing for a CT scan is usually straightforward. You can eat, drink, and take medications as usual on the day of your scan, though refraining from eating for 3-4 hours prior to the scan is advisable. Specific preparation instructions may vary depending on the body part being scanned and whether contrast dye is required. Remove any metal objects before the scan. During the scan, you will lie on a table that moves through the scanner while capturing images. It's essential to remain as still as possible to ensure clear images. After the scan, the results will be sent to your doctor within 24 hours.
Choosing an independent outpatient imaging center, like SJRA, can significantly reduce costs compared to hospitals. At SJRA, prices for CT scans are up to 60% less than those at hospitals. Being an outpatient center focused on imaging services, SJRA prioritizes patient care and experience.
You can schedule a CT scan appointment at any of the following locations: