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Spinal Tap Cost


How Much Does a Spinal Tap Cost?

 
average costWith Health Insurance: $600-$2,500high costWithout Health Insurance: $3,000-$5,000
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A lumbar puncture, or a spinal tap, is performed typically when a doctor wants to examine or collect a patient's spinal fluid. Most frequently, a spinal tap is used to determine whether a patient has meningitis, a life-threatening but treatable condition. Sometimes spinal taps are used to relieve migraines or intense headache pressure. In rare cases, a spinal tap is performed to relieve intracranial pressure. Patients of any age can receive a spinal tap procedure. The procedure generally takes less than 45 minutes to perform.

Typical costs:

  • A patient is likely to see multiple items on a billing statement relating to a spinal tap procedure. Normally, the costs associated with the procedure can include a fee for performing the test, a doctor's fee, a specialist's fee, an analysis fee and a facility fee. According to Health Care Blue Book[1] , an online cost estimator, the average cost of the procedure alone is $353. Typically, the total cost for a spinal tap is $3,000-$5,000. Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center[2] , in Lincoln, NE, charges about $3,041 total for a lumbar puncture procedure. Baptist Memorial Health Care, with multiple hospital locations in Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas, typically charges $3,485 for the total procedure, including spinal tap and diagnostic services.
  • A spinal tap might be covered by a patient's health insurance. Typically, patients with health insurance can expect to pay 20%-50% of the cost of the procedure if it is not completely covered by insurance.
Related articles: Anesthesia, Health Insurance

What should be included:
  • Typically, a patient receiving a spinal tap procedure begins by lying on the left or right side in a fetal position. The lower back area of the patient is cleaned and a local anesthetic is used on the intended path of the spinal needle. After the spinal needle is inserted, the technician can collect spinal fluid and measure spinal pressure. WebMD[3] describes the procedure and provides information patients should know before having a spinal tap performed.
Additional costs:
  • Use of general anesthesia may incur additional charges. Health Care Blue Book[4] states a typical cost of anesthesia is $51.
  • Some doctor's add the cost of an office visit to the total charges. An office visit typically costs $25-$100.
Discounts:
  • Health insurance may cover some or all of the cost of the spinal tap. Generally, insurance will cover 80%-100% of most common procedure. Contact an insurance provider for coverage specifics.
  • Some physicians and hospitals offer discounts of up to 35% to patients who do not have health insurance. Washington Hospital Healthcare System[5] , located in California, offers a 35% discount for uninsured patients. The hospital also has a financial assistance program for qualifying uninsured patients.
Shopping for a spinal tap:
  • The doctor-reviewed informational site, Spine Health[6] , offers a spine center and back doctor directory.
  • The Mayo Clinic provides information for patients preparing[7] to have a spinal tap procedure and what risks might be involved[8] .
  • Insurance providers typically have online tools for finding specialists covered by the provider that perform surgical procedures such as spinal taps.
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.  healthcarebluebook.com/page_Results.aspx?id=375&dataset=MD&g=Lumbar+Puncture
  2.  tp.chi.acelogicus.net/nese/Default.aspx
  3.  www.webmd.com/brain/lumbar-puncture
  4.  healthcarebluebook.com/page_Results.aspx?id=147&dataset=dental
  5.  www.whhs.com/about/washington-hospital-discount-policy-for-uninsured/
  6.  www.spine-health.com/doctor/spine-center
  7.  www.mayoclinic.com/health/lumbar-puncture/MY00982/DSECTION=how-you-prepare
  8.  www.mayoclinic.com/health/lumbar-puncture/MY00982/DSECTION=risks
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