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CostHelper > Health & Personal Care  > Tests, X-Rays & Imaging > PET Scan

PET Scan Cost


How Much Does a PET Scan Cost?

 
low costWith Health Insurance: 10%-50% Coinsuranceaverage costWithout Health Insurance: $2,000-$20,000+
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A PET (position emission tomography) scan involves introducing a small amount of a radioactive chemical into the body, and taking images as it moves, to study the functioning of organs or tissues. PET scans can be used to detect cancer, heart disease and brain abnormalities and to help determine treatment. PET scans do not show images as detailed as those produced by a CT scan or MRI, but can show chemical activity and blood flow as other scans cannot.

Typical costs:

  • For patients covered by health insurance, typical out-of-pocket costs would consist of coinsurance of 10%-50%. For example, at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center[1] in New Hampshire, a patient with Medicare and no supplemental insurance could pay $1,500 for a whole-body scan. A PET scan is typically covered by health insurance, with some exceptions. For example, Aetna[2] considers PET scans medically necessary for diagnosis and management of many cardiac conditions and many types of cancer; however, for certain conditions, such as cancers of the central nervous system, they are considered investigational and not covered.
  • For patients not covered by health insurance, a PET scan typically costs an average of about $4,900 for a PET scan of the whole body to $6,700 for the brain and $6,800 for the heart, according to NewChoiceHealth.com[3] . MedCentral Health System[4] in Ohio charges $3,059 for a PET scan from the base of skull to mid-thigh, $3,304 for a PET scan of the whole body and $3,723 for a PET scan of the brain. The Southern Ohio Medical Center charges $4,010 for a PET scan from the base of the skull to the thigh.
  • Costs vary widely by geographic location and type of provider -- from $2,000 to $20,000 or more; in general, the cost is on the lower end of the range if done in an imaging facility and the higher end if done in a hospital, where a facility fee is charged. For example, the cost for a whole-body PET scan[5] ranges from $3,200 at a center in Mississippi to $10,300 at a hospital in California. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center[6] in New Hampshire charges $4,929 for a whole body scan with a discount for the uninsured. And the price of a heart PET scan[7] ranges from $3,700 at a provider in Arkansas to $20,800 at a provider in California. At Weatherhead PET Imaging Center[8] in Texas, a heart PET scan costs $3,000 for self-pay patients. The Washington Imaging Center[9] in Washington state charges $2,500-$4,000, depending on the area of the body.
Related articles: CT Scan, MRI

What should be included:
  • A small amount of radioactive material is typically injected into a vein on the wrist, but the patient could be asked to breathe it in or swallow it. The patient then has to wait up to an hour for the chemical to be absorbed. The patient then enters the scanning machine and must lie still for about a half hour while images of the organ or tissue are taken. A radiologist will then review the results within a few days and create a report to give to the patient's doctor.
  • The Cleveland Clinic has an overview[10] of PET scans.
Discounts:
  • Many hospitals and doctors offer discounts to uninsured or cash-paying patients. For example, Radiology Associates in California, which offers PET scans, has a cash-pay discount of 20%.
Shopping for a pet scan:
  • The specialist overseeing care probably will make a referral for a PET scan. Or, NewChoiceHealth.com[11] offers a facility locator and price comparison tool by zip code.
  • Women who may be or are pregnant or who are breast feeding should ask their doctor whether a PET scan is safe or recommended. RadiologyInfo.org[12] offers safety information on imaging, pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
 
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External Resources:
  1.  patients.dartmouth-hitchcock.org/billing_questions/charges_for_healthcare_services.html
  2.  www.aetna.com/cpb/medical/data/1_99/0071.html
  3.  www.newchoicehealth.com/PET%20Scan-Cost
  4.  www.medcentral.org/main/PatientPriceList.aspx
  5.  www.newchoicehealth.com/Directory/Procedure/47/Whole%20Body%20PET%20Scan
  6.  patients.dartmouth-hitchcock.org/billing_questions/charges_for_healthcare_services.html
  7.  www.newchoicehealth.com/Directory/Procedure/50/PET%20Scan%20Heart
  8.  www.uth.tmc.edu/pet/patients/pet-and-the-heart-cost.htm
  9.  www.washingtonimaging.com/public/FAQ-PET-CT.asp
  10.  my.clevelandclinic.org/services/pet_scan/hic_pet_scan.aspx
  11.  www.newchoicehealth.com/PET%20Scan-Cost
  12.  www.radiologyinfo.org/en/safety/index.cfm?pg=sfty_xray#part6
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