New Parents—How Much Does an Ultrasound Cost?

Posted March 18, 2021 by in Health + Fitness

It’s no secret that babies are expensive. In fact, parents spend up to $50,000 during the first year of a child’s life. But can you really put a price on a healthy, happy baby? 

Part of budgeting for a new baby is medical expenses for the expecting mother and for the baby. And by now you’ve probably already scheduled your first ultrasound—how exciting! But what should you expect to pay for the baby’s first photos?

Read below for a brief guide to the ultrasound cost to help your budget for the future:

Doctor administering an ultrasound on a pregnant woman.

What Is an Ultrasound?

First things first, what is an ultrasound? An ultrasound, also known as a sonogram, is a medical test that uses sound waves to show images of a growing fetus.

Through this imaging, a trained technician or medical professional can view an unborn baby and detect any potential problems. They can also see whether there are multiple babies (twins, triplets, etc.) and determine the sex of the baby.

Three-dimensional (3D) ultrasounds provide detailed images of the fetus. You can see facial features and other developmental indicators using this type of ultrasound. A doctor may recommend a 3D ultrasound if she or he suspects abnormalities. 

A doctor will usually suggest the first ultrasound around 6 to 8 weeks into pregnancy. Depending on the health and age of the mother, a doctor may recommend three or more additional ultrasounds throughout pregnancy. 

Interested in the type of training it takes to become certified in ultrasound delivery. Check out the best registry review courses to learn about credentials for professionals.

Keep reading for more information on the cost of ultrasound testing.

Insurance

According to Healthcare Bluebook, the average price for an ultrasound is about $325. However, that cost is going to vary substantially based on a number of factors – including health insurance.

As with any medical procedure or test, it’s less expensive when you have health insurance. Most private insurance companies will pay for some or all of the ultrasound cost because it’s considered medically necessary. If you schedule elective ultrasounds or 3D ultrasounds that aren’t considered medically necessary, you may have to pay for the ultrasound in the form of a copayment, coinsurance, or deductible payment.

Your copayment could be anywhere between $20 and $100+ depending on your insurance plan. Your coinsurance is a cost based on a percentage of the total cost of the test. So, if the cost of your ultrasound was $200 and your coinsurance requires 20%, you would owe $40.

If you have already met your deductible, your ultrasound might be covered in full by your insurance company. If you have not met your deductible, you have to pay for the full cost of the ultrasound or at least as much as required to meet the deductible.

The best way to understand what the insurance company will cover is to talk to your insurance provider ahead of time. If they have restrictions based on medical necessity, talk to your doctor about whether the ultrasound is necessary.

If you don’t have health insurance you will have to pay the total price for the ultrasound. Talk to the ultrasound provider about the total cost without insurance and see whether you can negotiate that price at all.

Asking questions before the ultrasound will help you determine what to expect when it comes to paying for the first ultrasound.

Location, Location, Location

The cost of an ultrasound depends on where you get it. Not only does the cost vary among different cities and states, but it also varies based on the type of facility you visit. For example, if you go to an ultrasound facility you’ll pay significantly less than a traditional hospital setting.

You can expect to pay somewhere between $100 and $300 for an ultrasound at a stand-alone facility whereas a hospital could cost up to $1,000 or more. Hospitals require high administrative and operating costs which means services there are more expensive.

You can send the results and imaging from your ultrasound to any of your other doctors at different medical facilities. That way, you have a continuous care experience without breaking the bank on ultrasound costs.

What to Expect for a First Ultrasound

Now that you have a better idea of the cost of an ultrasound, let’s talk about what you can expect from the visit. First, there are two types of ultrasounds – transvaginal and transabdominal.

A transvaginal ultrasound involves a probe being inserted into the vagina to capture images. This type of ultrasound is often used during the first trimester because the fetus is still deep inside the mother’s pelvis. Transvaginal ultrasounds are also used to locate the placenta or measure the cervix. 

Transvaginal ultrasounds can be uncomfortable, but experienced professionals will prepare you for the discomfort and offer techniques to reduce pain or tension.

The other type of ultrasound is transabdominal. This might be what you think of when you think of a typical ultrasound. A technician uses lubricant and a wand over a woman’s abdominal area to view the fetus.

During this ultrasound, you may feel light pressure from the wand, but overall it is not uncomfortable. You can see images of the fetus using an abdominal ultrasound fairly early on during pregnancy.

Your doctor will likely give you a set of instructions before your first ultrasound. It is recommended that women come to an ultrasound with a full bladder because the liquid makes it easier to view the fetus. It’s also convenient to wear a comfortable, 2-piece outfit to an ultrasound appointment to make it easier to access the abdominal area.

Preparing for Ultrasound Cost

You’re expecting a baby—hooray! But it’s natural to worry about saving money and paying for doctor’s appointments and the ultrasound cost. Asking your doctor and your insurance company about costs is the best way to budget.

Ultrasounds are important to check on a fetus’s health and development, so whatever it costs, it’s worth it. This is the first of many sacrifices you will make as a parent.

Woman holding up ultrasound photos in a doctors office.

And if you’re looking for creative ways to save money, check out our other blogs!

*Photos by MART PRODUCTION