How much does an abortion cost? Well, from $0 to $3,275

Filed Under: Costs, Health plans, Patients

abortion cost

SUMMARY: How much does an abortion cost? [Updated January 2017.] As you guessed, it can vary: from $0 to over $3,000 depending on, among other factors, how long you’ve been pregnant, how you’re paying and, increasingly, where you live. Insurance policies have different coverages. Different states treat abortion differently, including how late state providers are allowed to do abortions, and under what circumstances. 

Abortion is probably the most politically charged medical procedure in American history. It’s also fairly common.

About 3 in 10 U.S. women have one by age 45. Over a third of women getting abortions are white.  Over half are 20-somethings. Almost half make incomes under the federal poverty level. Most are already mothers. Cost matters to many of these women and while states can’t ban abortion outright, they can — and do — pass laws that make it more expensive.

[Updated January 2017:  The situation is changing with developments on the federal level and on the state level. While this blog post was originally written a bit ago, the links are to sites that will give up-to-date information beyond the generalities we include here. Also, as journalists, we are confident in our reporting but please remember that the situation is changing rapidly. Therefore some of the sites referenced here may not be up-to-the-second — so you should doublecheck all facts at the source.]

In the end, abortion cost primarily hinges on the following factors:

  • Duration of pregnancy
  • Insurance, Medicaid or other funding
  • Where you live

For some portion of the first trimester, women can choose between a medical abortion (a.k.a. the abortion pill) and a surgical abortion. Depending on the state, women can take the abortion pill until they are, at most, nine weeks pregnant. Some states prohibit its use after seven weeks. A medical abortion actually consists of a physical exam, two separate pills, Mifepristone and Misoprostol, and a follow-up appointment.

The process takes anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on how far apart the pills are taken and how long the body takes to abort after the second pill. Patients must agree to have a surgical abortion when medical abortions don’t work, which happens less than one percent of the time.

After nine weeks, surgical abortion is generally the only choice. During the first 16 weeks of pregnancy, women get what’s called an aspiration abortion. A dilation and evacuation procedure is standard between 16 and 21 weeks. For the later-term abortions, it’s more complicated.

Here’s a thorough rundown of medical abortion. Here is a Planned Parenthood page on in-clinic abortion procedures and a page on the abortion pill.

How much does an abortion cost?

We found cash or self-pay first-trimester surgical abortion fees generally range from around $300 to $1,200. [Updated January 2017: These prices were collected by our journalists. While most prices stay relatively consistent, this landscape is changing rapidly because of state and federal developments; providers in several states, including Texas, have closed because of new regulations, and prices change. In every case, you should check with the provider to make sure they’re still open, and still performing abortions, and ask what their price is, rather than assuming that the facility is open and that the prices our journalists collected are still in effect.]

A Los Angeles Planned Parenthood office quoted us these prices: $648 for a surgical abortion through 11.6 weeks. Later: $800 at 12.1 to 15.6 weeks, $1,050 at 16 to 17.6 weeks, $1,700 at 18 to 19.6 weeks, $2,225 at 20 to 21.6 weeks, $3,275 at 22 to 24 weeks. Non-surgical abortion (the pill) there is $605.

Planned Parenthood, like many providers we talked to, has a sliding scale based on income.

Here are  abortion price lists for the New York area, and here are abortion price lists for the Los Angeles area. Here are  abortion price lists for the San Francisco area. And here are Texas cities: abortion price lists for the Houston areathe Dallas-Fort Worth areathe San Antonio area and the Austin area. Florida prices range from $350 to $3,500.

In every case of our tables for prices, the “Notes” field will give more detail on what prices are at what term.

There are a number of providers who will not do an abortion after the first trimester. Sometimes this is because of state regulations.

The abortion pill is not necessarily cheaper than a surgical abortion. Other points:

      • The Guttmacher Institute found that in 2009 (the most recent year where it found available data), the average cost for a surgical abortion at 10 weeks was $470, of which women paid $451. The average cost of the abortion pill was $490, of which women paid $483.
      • Hospitals and physicians’ offices cost more than clinics. Across the board, prices increase as pregnancy progresses.
      • The National Abortion Federation found that the average price for an abortion (medical or surgical) performed between six and 10 weeks is $350 at an abortion clinic and $500 at a doctor’s office. At 16 weeks, the average price rises to $650 at clinics and $700 at doctors’ offices. At 20 weeks, in states that still allow abortions, the average price exceeds $1,000. By the 24th week, the latest point at which any state permits abortion, the average price exceeds $2,000.

Remember, providers’ prices or may not cover all medical services — additional charges may come from sonograms, blood tests,  prescription medications and anesthesia.

Are you covered by insurance or Medicaid? Can you get other funding?

The Guttmacher Institute’s 2009 study found that 46 percent of women paid  for their abortions out of pocket, assuming their health insurance wouldn’t cover it.

Actually, abortion is traditionally covered under private health insurance. According to the National Abortion Federation, almost two-thirds of insurance plans cover elective abortions to some degree. The Affordable Care Act, however, explicitly allows states to prohibit private insurance plans from covering abortion.

Many states have passed laws banning abortion coverage in plans purchased through state exchanges.  Two of these states prohibit abortion coverage in the “exception cases”: when pregnancy is life-endangering and when women become pregnant from rape or incest.

When does the cash or self-pay price matter?

Abortion isn’t necessarily covered by insurance. Laws vary by state and policy. Some states have imposed restrictions on coverage — check out your state on this map.

And even if you have abortion coverage through your insurance, the place you choose won’t necessarily take it. Clinics are more likely than private gynecology practices and hospitals to accept insurance and Medicaid, and more likely to offer low-cost services based on household income. Planned Parenthood clinics that perform abortions (not all do!) accept most coverage.

One Brooklyn gynecologist, for example, takes some insurance plans but no Medicaid. Patients cannot get any coverage for the abortion pill, which costs $475. Surgical abortions start at $350, for which insurance is accepted.

If you’re enrolled in Medicaid

Under federal law,  Medicaid must cover abortion in the above-mentioned exception cases, but that’s it. States can choose to expand their Medicaid programs beyond the required federal exceptions.

Currently, in a number of states, Medicaid covers all or most medically necessary abortions. Here’s a state-by-state overview of Medicaid abortion coverage. Medicaid  covers abortion costs only in your state of residence. If your state has weak Medicaid coverage or few abortion facilities, you can go to another state, but you won’t get Medicaid coverage.

If you have low or no coverage

Low-cost clinics, including some branches of Planned Parenthood, charge patients on an income-based sliding-scale fee.

There are also funding organizations that subsidize or cover the cost of abortions for women who can’t afford to pay. The New York Abortion Access Fund provides assistance and lodging to anyone who lives in or is traveling to New York State. The Lilith Fund works with these Texas clinics to fund abortions. Here’s a map of funding organizations across the country, compiled by Fund Abortion Now.

[Updated January 2017: Additionally, some organizations will help you with auxiliary services. For example, a New York City nonprofit volunteer organization called the Haven Coalition will support women traveling to New York City for abortions.]

Where do you live?

To confuse matters more, over 20 states have quietly passed a slew of restrictive laws that are eroding abortion access. Some laws impose prohibitively high operation standards on abortion providers, causing them to shut down. Other laws set mandatory waiting periods and procedures required before women can get abortions.

Here’s an overview of all the state limitations,  from the Guttmacher Institute.

Texas passed a law  that reduced the number of statewide facilities from 40 to 28. Experts predict that the number will fall further. Check out this interactive chart for The Texas Tribune’s survey or providers.

Who cares about abortion costs? Here’s a quick blog post about searches for this topic from .edu domains. Yes, a lot of people are interested in this topic.

The takeaway: Questions to ask

As we always say, know before you go. Questions to ask:

        • Do I have access to a good decision-making guide? Here’s one source of information, and here’s one on later-term abortions.
        • How far along am I? If I’m past the first trimester, can I get an abortion at a facility near me? If not, where do I have to travel?
        • Do I have insurance? Does my insurance plan cover abortion services? If so, under what circumstances?
        • If I have Medicaid, does my state’s Medicaid program cover my abortion?
        • If I have no coverage, can I afford to pay for the abortion procedure I need?
        • If I can’t pay, how can I get help?
        • Are there sliding-scale fee clinics near me? Can I show proof of income to get an affordable price?
        • Can I find a funding organization to help cover my abortion and, if need be, my travel expenses?

If you can’t answer these questions, reach out for help. The National Abortion Federation (NAF) operates toll-free hotlines.

For general information and questions about financial assistance, call 1-800-772-9100.

For abortion provider referrals, call 1-877-257-0012.