How Much Does a Coronary Calcium Scan Cost?
The coronary calcium scan is a preventative test that can ensure that your heart is able to function properly. The arteries in your heart carry blood to the rest of the body, and if these are blocked it can cause heart attacks, strokes, and many other life threatening issues. Normally when we hear the word “calcium,” we think of the nutrient that our body needs and think of it as a good thing. However, in the heart, calcium refers to the build-up of calcium that can block the arteries in the coronary system. A coronary calcium scan, therefore, is a scan of the arteries of your heart to see whether or not there is calcium build-up that is posing a threat to your heart health.
How much is it?
- On average, a coronary calcium scan can range in price from $150 to $500. Most scans are done between $150 and $300 with additional perks thrown in. These perks may include but are not limited to treatment intervention, advice, and limited time access to a cardiac imaging specialist.
- According to WebMD.com, the test will usually cost anywhere from $200 to $500. They also claim that as with any screening test, Medicare and other insurance plans will not cover it.
- Cedars Sinai charges $250 for a cardiac calcium scan, lipid panel, and same-day consultation. If you do not want the same-day consultation, the price drops to $185.
What is going to be included?
- Depending with the pricing option, the test may include a heart scan that shows possible calcium deposits in the coronary region, a lipid panel, a consultation appointment with a cardiac imaging specialist, possible treatment options, and advice on lifestyle changes. The basic inclusion in the screening is the heart scan.
- During the procedure, the chest will be applied with stick patches with sensors, known as electrodes. These sensors are connected to an EKG machine, which will record the heart’s electrical activity during the scan. Lying on your back, the CT scanner will take pictures for short periods. The procedure should not take any longer than 15 minutes.
- This is a painless, non-invasive test that can be done in a doctor’s office.
- The doctors will use this scan to provide pictures of the heart arteries. Using these scans, they will look for calcium deposits inside of the arteries.
- The lipid panel is a blood test that checks your cholesterol levels. The test is used to diagnose high cholesterol levels in your blood.
What are the extra costs?
- Extra costs may include costs associated with the prior preparation for taking the coronary calcium scan. These preparations may include risk assessment tests, other possible blood tests such as for cholesterol levels, physical examinations and medical history reviews. Some of these preparatory tests have certain costs associated with them. If they are not covered by insurance, you will be forced to pay from your own pocket.
- If anything is found in the coronary calcium scan that requires further attention or treatment, this will not be included in the cost of the test. However, the follow up procedures may be covered by your insurance even though the initial test may not be.
Tips to know:
- You probably do not need a coronary calcium scan if you fall either in the low risk group or high-risk group. These are criteria developed by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology to help classify risk levels of heart diseases. The point is, your doctor is already aware of your heart health. According to Mayo Clinic, “The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology do not recommend routine use of heart scans on people who do not have symptoms of heart disease and who do not smoke or have cardiac risk factors, such as elevated cholesterol or high blood pressure.”
- The test is especially helpful to people who fall in the intermediate group. For example, people who have chest pains and the underlying factors are not certain may be able to pin point the problem through the coronary calcium scan.
- Talk to your personal doctor about the scan results. He or she is the one best suited to interpret the results because he or she is already aware of the potential factors that may affect your health. Walk-in clinics have good doctors but they cannot exhaustively determine your health situation as would your personal doctor who is conversant with your medical history.
How can I save money?
- You can economize on the heart scan costs by visiting your regular doctor for the scan and more so, the preparatory examinations. The additional costs may be covered by your health insurer. Walk in clinics are rarely covered by insurance and end up being costlier than if you had visited your regular doctor. If you do not have a health insurance policy or you are looking to switch, refer to eHealthInsurance.com for a selection of plans.