How much does an X-ray of the spine cost? For this woman, $351.41

Filed Under: Costs, Health plans, Patients

It was a crazy expensive X-ray price, shared by a community member – a $415 charge for an X-ray of the spine, “Lumbosacral, Complete, W Oblique Views,” (CPT code 72110). The insurer paid $351.41, she told us.

We have documented X-ray prices from $20 to $988, and we’re always interested in the topic — they’re so common, and the ranges are so wide.

I asked

1. Can you tell us about the circumstances?
2. Were there any other charges associated with this? Doctor visit, treatment etc?

This is a pricey X-ray!

She answered

Hi there. Yes, lots of other fees. A person to look at the X-ray, which was about $19 (bargain!) and the doctor visit was $300 I think. I submitted that on the site I think. I went because I’ve been having really bad back pain. And now I’m supposed to physical therapy but of course no one is in network so I’m going to have to pay about $100 out of pocket for that. I truly don’t see the point of insurance sometimes.

Were you on the Brian Lehrer show on NPR? He’s doing a podcast series called price check.

And then wrote again

Ha yes just looked up and it was you. That was a great interview and story! Have people been contributing more prices? One thing that would be helpful on the submission site is a distinction between “insurance paid” and “went toward deductible.” I remember being a bit unsure of how to categorize one submission.

And I’m happy to participate in a story. I’m a magazine writer so I’m all on board with anything that gets the word out.

I had a conversation with someone at Oxford that sounded like an SNL sketch, about how I’m supposed to know whether an X-ray will cost me $100 or $500. She said that they stopped sharing negotiated rates a couple of years ago so now you just get surprised with a bill after the fact. And the doctors’ offices of course don’t want to give you a quote either.

Last year, my husband got a $342 bill for routine bloodwork that was part of a wellness visit. That was a fun one to fight! Hours and hours probably. And I can afford to pay it but it pisses me off that they do this to people who can’t. I didn’t win of course. I finally got our doctor’s office to call the hospital lab and got it knocked down to $242. Absolute madness. They literally listed a charge for the puncturing itself to get the blood for the overpriced tests. I could have done that part.

Ok I’m ranting now… Get in touch if you need me. I’m happy to help in whatever way I can.