Expecting a baby is an exciting but expensive time, and the cost of an ultrasound can be a source of anxiety for many parents-to-be. Don’t let worries about the price of an ultrasound prevent you from getting the care you need. Learn more about what to expect regarding ultrasound fees and available payment plans.
When preparing for the arrival of a new baby, healthcare expenses are generally at the forefront of the numerous financial considerations that must be made. Costs for everything from prenatal care to the hospital stay after the baby is born may pile up quickly, regardless of whether or not you have health insurance. Prenatal ultrasounds are a popular and sometimes essential element of healthcare, but their cost and availability can vary widely based on factors including where you live, where you receive care, and your health insurance.
Discover the lowdown on ultrasound prices, which services are covered by insurance, and which ones you’ll have to pay out of pocket.
According to Healthcare Bluebook, an online resource for determining the fair market value of medical services, the national average cost of a fetal ultrasound is around $200, with certain states charging even less. Yet, the cost might vary widely based on factors, including where you reside and where you go for medical attention. According to New Choice Health, a prenatal ultrasound in Tampa, Florida, costs an average of $134, whereas, in Baltimore, Maryland, it averages $648.
Ultrasounds can cost anywhere from $200 to $800 or more and can easily exceed $1,000 if you visit an ultrasound practitioner who is not in your insurance network. Ultrasounds are typically more expensive at large hospitals because of increased administrative expenditures compared to a doctor’s office or a freestanding clinic.
Insurance Coverage Vary Considerably
Although the Affordable Care Act mandates that all Marketplace health care plans and many other plans cover prenatal checkups and treatments (like screening for gestational diabetes or preeclampsia), ultrasounds are not explicitly stated unless they are medically necessary by your doctor. It’s best to double-check with your provider to see if they cover prenatal ultrasounds. You should also know that the way your doctor bills for the ultrasound could affect your insurance coverage.
It’s understandable to think that seeing a sonogram or 3D image of your unborn child to learn its gender will be an unforgettable experience. Nevertheless, you’ll have to foot the bill if your doctor doesn’t order an ultrasound.
Keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration and the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) have both issued comments voicing their opposition to memento ultrasounds on the grounds of safety concerns. Both the FDA and the AIUM advise that ultrasounds be performed only when medically necessary and only by qualified medical experts such as obstetricians, radiologists, or sonographers.
If your doctor has recommended an ultrasound and you have health insurance, it is in your best interest to get the procedure done at a facility in your network. This will reduce your out-of-pocket expenses and, in certain cases, may even result in full coverage (depending on your deductible).
CEO and founder of Pillar Wealth Management, Hutch Ashoo, argues that patients are typically expected to pay the full out-of-network amount.
Reducing the Cost of Ultrasounds
Costs associated with ultrasounds might add up quickly if you need health insurance to cover them. “Basically, the price of ultrasonography relies on the state,” explains Alex Williams, a certified financial adviser. Sonograms required by a doctor vary in cost from state to state, he says.
If you’re trying to save money, don’t get an elective ultrasound if you don’t have insurance. Smaller clinics may offer more affordable ultrasound services if your doctor recommends one. According to personal financial expert Christopher Morgan, “most standalone clinics charge between $150 and $400 for an ultrasound,” but large hospitals can charge as much as $1,000.
To find out if a payment plan is available for the ultrasound, speak with the physician. If you don’t have health insurance but still want to get an ultrasound, you can go to a local Planned Parenthood facility. If you want to choose the most reasonably priced clinic, feel free to shop around.