Home > Insurance

How Much Does CT Scan Cost Without Insurance?

Last modified: Jul 25, 2023

When it comes to our health, we want to make sure that we do everything possible to get the best care there is. And to do so, we need to ensure that we understand our options when inquiring about a particular treatment. Of course, we must know how much those treatments will cost us.

That said, when it comes to getting a CAT (computerized axial tomography) scan, or a CT scan, many people don't know what their options are. Or, better yet, many have no idea how much does a CT scan costs without insurance.

If you’re in the same situation and wonder how big of a medical bill you’ll get if you go for a CAT/CT scan with no insurance, stay with us and read through the end of this article.

Consequently, we will discuss the different types of CT scans available and how much they cost with and without insurance.

What is a CT scan?

CT or CAT scan is used to detect diseases and internal body injuries/trauma rapidly. Since this type of scan can present a visual of the whole body, doctors also use it when planning a thorough surgical or medical treatment.

For instance, a CT is suitable when checking if there is a tumor or another problem inside someone's body.

Additionally, CT stands for computerized tomography. The CT machine actually takes multiple X-rays from several angles. It then uses those images and computer software to create detailed pictures of internal organs, bones, blood vessels, etc., even the soft tissues.

What is the difference between MRI and CT scans?

To get things straight, a CT scan and MRI are two completely different medical methods. However, both methods will give you an in-depth image scan of a human internal organs, bones, etc.

So, how do they differ one from another? The primary difference lies in the way they process the scans/images. In a nutshell, MRI scans require robust magnetic fields + radio waves to produce a scan. On the other hand, CT scans utilize X-rays to create one.

Nevertheless, you’ll find that CT scans are typically requested much more often than MRIs; On the plus side, CT scans come at a lower price when compared to MRIs. But, sometimes, it isn’t about how much a scan costs, but why you need it.

For instance, you’d want to know that MRI scans create a more accurate and elaborate image than CT scans do.

How do both scans work?

When you go for a CT scan, you are asked to lie down in a very big X-ray donut-like machine, i.e., the CT scan machine. You need to be very still during the scanning. As soon as the scanning is done, it sends the scans to a computer.

Going for an MRI (magnetic resonance imagery) is pretty much the same as when having a CT scan, with one significant difference. Therefore, if you need an MRI, you need to lie down in a specific scanner, i.e., an MRI scanner. This scanner is, in fact, a constant magnetic field that utilizes radio waves that reflect off your body. As soon as the scanning is done, the scans go directly to a computer.

However, MRIs are a better and safer choice for pregnant women because they do not use radiation. Still, you should consult with your doctor if you, for example, have a pacemaker, or anything implanted.

Note: Unlike CT machines, the MRI scanner is pretty noisy, so the technician doing the scan might give you earplugs to decrease the noise.

How long does a CT scan take?

The amount of time that a CT scan takes varies. In other words, it depends on the type of scan that you are getting.

Though a CT takes anywhere between ten and thirty minutes, we suggest that you consider spending an hour, more or less, for the whole CT scan, including the preparation for it.

Why is a CT scan so expensive?

The answer to this question is pretty simple. CT scans are expensive because they require specialized equipment and take a significant amount of time to complete. Plus, the technicians who perform CT scans must be specially trained to safely carry out the procedure and ensure not just proper operating of the machine and make sure the patient inside is safe.

Consequently, CT scans come with a specific price tag because of the maintenance of the CT machine. That said, for proper maintenance of such machines, at least $100.000 a year is required.

What is a CT scan done for?

A CT scan is commonly used to diagnose tumors, internal bleeding/trauma, or blockages, so the price makes sense when you know what a CT scan is used for. On the plus side, it can also check/look for signs of damage after an injury.

There are a few different types of CT scans:

  • Standard or Conventional CT scan: This is the most common type of CT scan, and it uses X-rays to create images of the body.
  • Multislice (or Multidetector) MDCT Scan: This type of scan uses more powerful X-rays and creates more detailed images thanks to the two-dimensional detector array. Therefore, the images and scans produced using MDCT are more complex than those of a regular CT scan. Moreover, MDCT plays a significant role in the further development of high-resolution CT apps (CT colonoscopy, CT angiography).
  • CT Angiography: Briefly, this type of CT scan can discover heart-related risks and diseases. Additionally, this scan is used to spot any damage to blood vessels and diagnose problems such as blockages or aneurysms.
  • CT Myelography: This scan is used for a thorough look at the spinal cord, i.e., any pathologic spine conditions, like the thecal sac (the outside layer of the spinal cord) and other contents related to it. Still, the usage of this type of scan is significantly reduced because of the existence of MRI — MRI is considered a less invasive method for pathologic spine conditions.

Nevertheless, in a number of situations, a CT myelography plays a crucial part in the treatment of patients.

  • PET (Positron Emission Tomography) Scan: The PET scan is excellent for discovering early stages/indications of brain disorder (tumor, dementia, epilepsy, etc.), cancer, etc. Moreover, you can have a blend of PET scan alongside a regular CT scan procedure if you’re after an even more precise diagnosis.

And among the other types of CT scan you’ll also find these next ones:

  • CT scan on kidneys
  • CT Neck scan
  • CT scan on abdomen
  • Pelvic CT scan
  • CT scan for lungs/chest; CT scan for Covid (a CT on the chest can also diagnose Covid if there’s a potential infection.
  • A Head CT, and others.

What can CT scans detect?

These are the disorders, abnormalities, diseases, and other health-threatening diagnoses that CT scan detects:

  • Lung cancer or other tumors in the chest area, including mesothelioma (a type of cancer that affects people who have been exposed to asbestos).
  • Discover serious conditions (heart disease, cancer, liver mass, kidney diseases, hepatitis C infection, etc.).
  • Brain tumors, hemorrhages (bleeds) and strokes.
  • Abdominal problems like gallstones, pancreatitis, diverticulitis, and appendicitis.
  • Spot muscle/bone disorders (any fractures, or bone tumor).
  • Precisely locate where an infection, or tumor is happening.
  • Spine problems, such as spinal stenosis or herniated discs.
  • Map out a precise procedure for a specific biopsy or surgery.

How Much Does It Cost If I Have Insurance?

Briefly, your insurance determines the cost of any diagnostic testing you undergo. And when we say diagnostic testing, we refer to CT/CAT scan, X-ray, MRI, or any test in particular.

However, the cost you’ll pay, even with insurance, depends on several factors:

  • The medical facility you choose.
  • Your location (region, state, city).
  • The payment method (cash, via your insurance provider, etc.). Whether you're insured or not.
  • Whether you need a CT scan without contrast materials or with.
  • Extra office visits (the initial consultations and follow-up appointments come with different prices).

A CT scan in the US, on average, costs roughly around $3.280; even so, the prices vary from $300-$6.750+ — these are numbers regardless of the fact whether you have or don’t have insurance.

Here are a few average CT scan costs per city:

  • Chicago — from $550 to $1.450
  • New York — from $550 to $1.400
  • Houston — from $525 to $1.350
  • Miami — from $500 to $1.300, etc.

People with health insurance/private healthcare plans should be happy because these cover some or all of the costs associated with having a CT scan performed. Therefore, things like the cost of a CT scan of abdomen and pelvis or how much a CT scan with contrast costs aren’t some of the questions that burden them.

Nevertheless, even if your insurance pays part of what you owe to the provider, there will still be out-of-pocket expenses involved. This is because deductibles must first be met before any coverage kicks in. In other words, the best thing to do is to reach out to your health insurance provider and inquire about the costs you’ll bear.

Wondering how much would out-of-pocket expenses cost on average? As we mentioned, you might or might not pay anything. But, if there’s a copay fee, you’d be delighted that you’ll only pay 10-20%; which is approximately $200 for, let’s say, a $1.000 procedure.

Which providers cover CT scans?

Most insurance companies in the USA cover CT scans, but, unfortunately, some don't.

Let’s find out which care providers vouch to cover your CT scan costs in case you need one:

  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan — if you need an X-ray, MRI, CT/CAT/PET scan this healthcare provider will cover the costs with a beforehand made authorization.
  • Kaiser Permanente — this healthcare insurance covers a good part of the amount for various CT scans. For further information you can check the sample fee list on their official site.
  • Centene Corporation — you’ll need to pay 40 percent coinsurance for CT or PET scan. And make sure to obtain a prior authorization for the same.
  • Humana — you’ll have to participate with 20 percent coinsurance if you use a particular network provider. However, it would be better to obtain a pre-authorization for imaging services to avoid any penalties.
  • Molina Healthcare — offers coverage for tests like CT/PET/MRI scans, but you need prior authorization for the same.
  • Highmark Group — you’ll pay 50 percent of the sum if you are using the services through an enhanced provider, or you can pay 60 percent of the amount if you are with a standard network provider.
  • Blue Cross of California — with a plan provider by your side, you won’t pay a thing in an Outpatient Radiology Center or Outpatient Hospital.
  • CareSource — with a network provider, you’ll only pay 50 percent after making the deductibles. Plus, there is no need for any prior authorization to be done.
  • Medicare — if you are interested in learning how much does a CT scan costs with Medicare, visit their official website and reach out to their representatives.
  • Medicaid — most of their coverage plans include CT scan services.

There are also many other health care insurance providers that you can rely on to cover your CT/CAT scan costs. Nevertheless, you can visit the sites mentioned above and check their sample free lists to get an idea of how much do CT scans cost with insurance. Establishing a contact with any of the above health insurance providers will get you the most accurate info regarding this or other related queries.

How Much Do CT Scans Cost Without Insurance?

Ok, so we’ve covered how much would you pay for a CT scan if you have insurance. And you have a good idea of which health providers cover these particular tests. Therefore, with no further delay, let's see how much a CT scan costs without insurance.

A CT scan without insurance can vary depending on the type of scan you are getting, but one thing is for sure - you’ll have to pay for the entire amount by yourself.

For example, a chest CT scan usually costs around $200, while a CT scan on the brain runs up to $800+. Also, keep in mind that the cost of a CT scan significantly depends on the places you live.

Nevertheless, if you can't afford to have a CT scan done, there are other payment options to consider. One option is to ask your doctor if they offer any payment plans. Furthermore, in some health care places, you can also reduce the scan cost by using a sliding scale payment system or by negotiating with the imaging facility.

Additionally, many states have programs that help people pay for medical expenses, so it's worth checking into those as well.


To conclude, upon everything said so far, a CT scan can help diagnose many different conditions, and the doctor is the one that will determine what type of CT scan you need.

Moreover, we explained to you what is the significant difference between a CT scan and an MRI scan and how these two work. We’ve also mentioned why a CT scan costs as much as it does, and the maintenance of a CT machine has a considerable portion in creating that price.

Now that you have a much clearer idea about how much CT scans cost without insurance, you won’t be taken aback by the billing you’ll receive. However, undoubtedly, having a CT scan with insurance on your side will cost you much less than without it.

Policy Advice is a website devoted to helping everyday people make, save, and grow money. While our team is comprised of personal finance pros with various areas of expertise, nothing can replace professional financial, tax, or legal advice.

Policy Advice is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.Policy Advice is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

Stay In Touch


About Website

© Copyright 2022 PolicyAdvice.net. All rights reserved.