February 9, 2023
February 9, 2023

How Much Does a Brain Scan Cost? Average Out-of-Pocket Costs

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How Much Does a Brain Scan Cost? Average Out-of-Pocket Costs

Key takeaways:

  • A brain scan, as part of evaluation referred by your primary health care provider, neurologist or ENT, may help understand the causes of symptoms like persistent headaches, seizures, dizziness, etc.
  • Inpatient procedures are usually more costly than outpatient tests.
  • Brain scan cost varies depending on the scan type, contrast, sedatives, and more.
  • A full body MRI scan may be better at screening for abnormalities, like tumors, than a CT scan. Both can be used for brain scans.

Wondering if you have an abnormality related to your brain is worrisome enough. Even more stressful is figuring out how to pay for the brain scan to check for those abnormalities.

If you have symptoms like headaches, seizures, muscle weakness, etc., it is not uncommon for your healthcare practitioner to order a brain scan to figure out their causes.

It’s also natural to worry about brain scan costs, considering all the different prices you might see online. Let’s look at average brain scan costs and why this can vary.

Factors Determining Average Brain Scan Cost

Imaging tests provide a picture of the brain to your physician and may show potential causes of the symptoms – cysts, tumors, swellings, aneurysms, etc.  

The most common imaging tests for a brain scan are computerized tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. The brain scan cost, however, varies depending on the type of imaging test, the part of the body to be scanned, the facility and location of your scan, and your insurance plan.

The cost disparity in healthcare in the U.S. means that each facility can charge differently for a brain scan.

The average cost of a brain CT scan can range between $825 to $4,800, while a brain MRI cost tends to range from $1,600 to $8,400 on average.

Hospitals tend to charge more for a scan than a standalone facility. For a general CT scan, you may pay around $525 at an outpatient imaging center but as much as $4,750 in an inpatient setting.

1. Contrast

Another factor that may increase the cost of a brain scan is whether it uses contrast. Contrast agent is a chemical dye that helps highlight some areas within the brain. In case of CT scan, iodine or barium sulfate compounds are used as contrast dyes. In case of MRI, gadolinium is the main component of the dye.

For a brain scan with contrast, you’ll be given the contrast agent some time prior to the scan through an injection. If you are getting a brain scan with contrast, it will increase the cost by $100 to $300.

2. Sedatives

A scanner is usually tunnel-shaped, and you’ll have to spend from 15 minutes to an hour in it while the machine captures your brain’s images.

If you suffer from claustrophobia or cannot stand the loud noise the MRI machine usually makes, your radiologist may give you a dose of a mild sedative. This typically increases the pricing by $125 to $400 per scan.

How Much Does a Brain Scan Cost? Dealing With Insurance

If you have a high-deductible insurance plan, you might be charged $1,000 or more for a scan. However, this brings you closer to meeting your deductible, at which point your out-of-pocket expenses will go down.

Furthermore, insurance plans typically include an out-of-pocket limit. Lastly, many insurance plans also require a physician’s referral and insurance approval for some scans.

If you are dealing directly with the imaging facility, you may be able to pay in cash for your brain scan for a reduced price. This is because they won’t have to deal with your insurance company. However, ask a facility about this option rather than assuming it will be offered.  

At ezra, we provide you with a complete hassle-free scan experience. From helping you get a referral from a healthcare practitioner to helping you understand your scan results, a dedicated care team will be with you throughout the way.

We offer transparent pricing, and you can pay for your scan with your FSA/HSA dollars. That way, you can use pre-tax dollars for an ezra Full Body scan, making it even cheaper.

When Should You Get a Brain Scan?

Brain scan cost: person pointing to brain scans

When you experience any of the persistent symptoms like seizures, blurry vision, dizziness, muscle weakness, worsening speech, progressive hearing loss, and headaches, visit a healthcare practitioner as soon as possible. Your physician may order a brain scan.

It is natural to expect the worst when you are asked to get a brain scan. But you need to understand that a brain scan can offer your healthcare team a detailed picture of potential problems and give you a head start on its treatment.  

A brain scan can empower you and your healthcare team to plan a treatment regimen when a disease is in its early stages.

What Can a Brain Scan Tell You?

A brain scan, using powerful diagnostic imaging tests like CT and MRI, can help healthcare practitioners understand the causes behind episodes of fainting, seizures, blurry vision, dizziness, muscle weakness, speech difficulty, hearing loss, and persistent headaches.

These symptoms may signify a deeper medical issue that can range from infections, traumatic injuries, to multiple sclerosis, atrophy of brain tissue, a brain tumor, or something else.

What Is the Difference Between an MRI and a CT Scan?

Both MRI and CT scans are powerful imaging tests. Both are non-invasive. However, they work differently.

A CT, or CAT scan uses X-rays to form images of the inside of your body. An MRI uses a combination of magnetic field and radio waves to form images. There is always a risk of X-ray radiation exposure and potential subsequent cancer development with a CT scan, whereas MRI scans are considered relatively safe.

CT scans are usually faster and take around 15 minutes to complete. MRIs last from 1-4 hours depending on the type of scan. Depending on the situation, MRI scans may be more accurate and produce better images than CT scans.

Stay in Control of Your Health With an ezra Full Body

photo of a smiling elderly couple
At ezra, we believe that the best way to stay ahead of medical problems is to catch them early. To do this, we developed the ezra Full Body, an approximately 60-minute full body MRI scan service that is designed to detect abnormalities inside your body.

The information you could obtain from an ezra full-body screening has the potential to help you find problems that may be lurking inside your body earlier.

The ezra Full Body is an approximately one-hour whole body MRI scan that scans up to 13 organs, including the brain. With this scan, ezra offers a 45-minute post-scan consultation with a medical provider, a personal care advisor, and a midyear check-in.  

Ezra offers uniform, transparent pricing on its scans. With centers in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sarasota and Miami, we’ve partnered with some of the best names in diagnostic imaging services to give you concierge service and satisfaction.

The ezra Full Body is $1,950, or $180 a month, and the ezra Full Body Plus is $2,350 or $220 a month. The Full Body Plus includes a LDCT (low dose CT) chest scan, coronary calcium scoring, and a prostate scan with IV contrast. The scan is ultra-sensitive, accurate, fast, safe, and painless.

We also offer three-year and five-year plans at a significant discount.

Join hundreds of individuals who are taking control of their health. Book your scan today.

The more you know about your body, the more you can make the right decisions for treatment. If you want to understand your risk factors in only five minutes, take our risk assessment quiz.