You’re at soccer practice for your son, and he trips and falls on his arm and is immediately in pain. While your first thought might not be, “How much is an x-ray?” there are a few things to consider when choosing where to go for treatment. Before you visit an ER for an x-ray, you may want to consider the cost. Here’s what ER x-rays cost vs. urgent care x-rays, including x-ray cost without insurance.
What is an X-Ray Used For?
X-ray imaging helps diagnose anything from broken bones to pneumonia. You can have one performed on about every single part of your body.
To create transparency for medical costs, a federal law enacted in 2021 requires that hospitals share prices of various services like x-rays and medical tests.
Factors of Price of X-Rays
So, if you’re wondering what factors determine the answer to “How much is an x-ray?”, here are several factors to consider:
- Place: An x-ray at an ER, urgent care, and an imaging center will have differing costs. K Health, a healthcare app, finds that imaging centers are the most affordable, followed by urgent care centers, while ERs and hospitals are the most expensive. However, some imaging centers will offer a discount to a patient who pays with cash. That discount can be upwards of 30% or more. It’s important to note that you must see a doctor before heading to an imaging center for an x-ray. Doctors must put in an order in for your x-ray at those locations.
- Geographical Location: Similar to other expenses like rent and gas, healthcare prices vary by city. New Choice Health, Inc. finds Los Angeles has an average x-ray cost of $230 to $600 while Miami is $100 to $250. Overall, the healthcare marketplace company finds, on average, that x-rays cost $260 to $460.
- Body Part: X-ray costs vary depending on the body part. For example, CostHelper finds that a finger x-ray is about $100, while a hand can cost $180. Larger body parts are more expensive, with a chest x-ray costing about $370 and the entire body costing about $1,100.
- Number of Views: Remember, an x-ray is a two-dimensional image of your three-dimensional body. Structures in an x-ray might hide other parts a doctor needs to see. This is why multiple views are almost always taken. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital says a typical example is when a child swallows an object. An x-ray may show the object is in the upper chest, but multiple views are needed to determine if it’s in the trachea or the esophagus.
- Type of Insurance: This factor plays a significant role in determining how much an x-ray is. CostHelper finds that most health insurances cover x-rays, and out-of-pocket costs are between $0 to $50 copays. Without health insurance, you could pay between $100 to more than $1,000. It also depends on your deductible amount and if you’ve met it for the year. You might pay more out of pocket if you have a high deductible.
The cost of the x-ray should include the imaging itself and a reading from a radiologist, a doctor who specializes in reading and diagnosing from imaging. If your x-ray is not emergent and you want to talk to your insurance provider first, ask your doctor for the procedure and diagnosis codes. Then tell your insurance provider those codes, and they should be able to price out area hospitals, urgent cares, and imaging centers for you.
Does Urgent Care do X-Rays?
By choosing to go to an urgent care to have x-rays done, you are not only saving yourself money but also time. Typically, urgent care can get you in and out quicker than an ER or hospital. At American Family Care (AFC), we offer a walk-in x-ray clinic in almost all locations. Our x-rays themselves should only take 15 minutes. To help speed up the process of the entire visit, AFC uses digital x-rays. Where traditional x-rays use photographic film, digital x-rays are captured on digital sensors. Because of this, digital x-rays can save time and resources and allow for a quicker diagnosis.
X-ray services vary by AFC locations, but most are capable of performing imaging for the following body areas.
- Upper extremities: fingers, hand, wrist, forearm, elbow, humerus, radius
- Lower extremities: toes, foot, ankle, knee, tibia, femur
- Spine: cervical, thoracic, lumbar
- Skull: head or nose
You don’t need an appointment at AFC for a visit requiring x-rays. Just find a location near you and stop in. The cost will be a fraction of the cost of an x-ray at a hospital or ER.