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May 26, 2021

What is the cost of a CT Scan in California and Los Angeles?

By Concierge at AffordableScan | 4 min read

According to articles published in NPR, the CT scan can cost as much as $8,897 while the national average for CT scan cost is about $1,200.  A high deductible patient pays on average $900 - $8,000 for a CT scan, while a cash patient pays as little as $220-400.

Not sure where to start?

Our concierge will help you find the most affordable imaging center

CT scans use specific equipment to produce numerous pictures of the body. CT scans are superior to traditional x-rays as they provide superior images of the body. Much like MRI scans, CT scans are performed with and without the use of a contrast agent.  Contrast dye is used to highlight a certain part of the body so image quality is enhanced. The most popular CT scans include chest and abdomen which help identify infections, trauma, and tumors in the body. The cost of a CT scan is on the rise due to its effectiveness in treating a variety of conditions.

CT scan cost for insured vs uninsured patients:

In an article by new choice health, it states the average cost of a CT scan in Los Angeles is $1339. This high price is often too expensive for both patients with insurance and uninsured patients. Folks with high deductible insurance plans experience high out of pocket costs. This, in turn, defeats the purpose of using insurance benefits for obtaining a CT scan. Freestanding imaging centers are an excellent alternative for patients needing imaging services. These facilities compete with big-box hospitals at a fraction of the price.  They use modern scanners and have the flexibility to offer same-day appointments. Furthermore, they provide extensive cash pay discounts up to 80% off the current going rate. Furthermore, immediate images, and quick turnaround on radiologist reports.

Cost of a CT Scan in California:

  • CT of the Head: $350 - $850
  • Abdomen CT: $540 - $1400
  • CT Lumbar Spine: $400 - $1000
  • Chest CT Scan: $590 - $ 1550

How does a CT scan work?

CT imaging method is based on the principle of X-ray, by using radiation to display structures of the body. In contrast to the classical X-ray, during the CT examination, the X-ray beam moves around the body. This allows radiologists to get different views of the same organ or structure. To find out more about the difference between CT and MRI scan click here.

CT scans can be done with or without contrast. Contrast is a substance you can take orally or get injected into a vein to see the particular organ or tissue more clearly. Radiologists sometimes use a CT scan to visualize the needle position during a biopsy or during aspiration of fluid from the abdomen. Contrast solution may also help visualize blood vessels or lung tissue.

Your doctor will probably ask you not to eat for 2 to 4 hours prior to the examination. You may be also asked to stop taking certain medications. During the procedure, you will lie down on a table. We recommend you to wear loose and comfortable clothes (you may also be given a hospital gown). Before the exam, please remove all metal items you can:

  • eyeglasses
  • jewelry, including body piercings
  • hair clips
  • dentures
  • hearing aids
  • bras with the metal underwire

Do I need a doctor's referral for a CT scan?

Yes, you would need it as this exam includes exposure to damaging x-ray waves. You can get one through our partner service. If you don't want to expose your body to radiation, in certain cases you might opt for an MRI scan instead, which does not use radiation. Also, doctors usually check for allergic reactions before they will prescribe a CT scan with contrast.

How to find an affordable CT scan?

Finding imaging centers that are both effective and affordable is a common problem for patients. First, you should always ask the referring doctors for a referral to take. The freedom of having doctors' orders allows patients to choose a stand-alone imaging center. Also, understanding the differences between machine type, and contrast and non-contrast CT scan assists in making the most informed decision. The most important piece of advice is finding a third party company that specializes in locating freestanding imaging centers. These organizations help patients throughout the entire process. First, an appropriate medical facility is found, then the scan is scheduled and booked. The company also provides continued support so patients experience a seamless process.

Tips for getting the best price for a CT scan, MRI scan or an Ultrasound

  • Shop around for the best price (see the facilities in your area)
  • Don't hesitate to ask for discounts upfront
  • Ask about all the fees. Do they include the cost of CT scan, cost of the radiologist reading and do they charge you a separate fee for the CD scan?
  • Take your doctor's referral with you to another facility - your referral might be issued to one of the most expensive hospitals in the country

Not sure where to start?

Our concierge will help you find the most affordable imaging center
Concierge at AffordableScan | 4 min read

The concierge team at AffordableScan works with top experts & doctors in the industry to publish the latest research & news on affordable medical care in the US.