How Much Does a Barium Swallow Test Cost?
A barium swallow test is used to diagnose problems associated with symptoms such as difficult or painful swallowing, abdominal pain, bloodstained vomit, or unexplained weight loss. A barium swallow test allows a doctor to view your upper digestive tract in detail, making it easy for them to diagnose a particular disease.
How much does it cost?
- On average, a barium swallow test can be anywhere from as little as $150 to as much as $600. The cost will depend on the geographical location, doctor and facility fees.
- If you have insurance, be sure to check with your provider, because this is a test that is routinely covered as long as it is ordered by your doctor. If you do not have a policy or are thinking about switching, consider browsing through hundreds of reputable policies at eHealthInsurance.com.
- For example, a user on the forum HealthBoards.com paid $425 for the test without insurance.
- According to Healthcarebluebook.com, a Barium swallow test costs $136.
What is going to be included?
- Barium swallow, or upper GI series, is an x-ray test used to examine the upper digestive tract which includes the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine.
- The test includes swallowing barium, a liquid that shows up on x-rays because the organs are not usually visible in x-rays. The barium temporarily coats the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and intestine so that they become visible. Before the procedure, you will be asked to have a high fiber diet with plenty of liquids. Six hours prior to the procedure, you will be asked to fast. During the procedure, you will be asked to drink a chalky based liquid which contains the barium. When the liquid is consumed, a technician will be able to take images while the barium flows through the intestines. This process can take up to four hours to perform.
- A barium swallow test is used to diagnose diseases which include cancer, ulcer, problems that cause narrowing of the esophagus, inflammation of the intestine, and swallowing problems.
- The cost of the Barium swallow test includes the total amount for both physician (interpretation) and technical (imaging) fees. Sometimes, the test will be billed in two parts but they should add up to the listed price.
What are the extra costs?
- The initial doctor’s appointments that were used to determine the need for a barium swallow test will not be included in the price of the test itself.
- Extra costs may be incurred for additional tests required by the doctor such as a barium swallow with meal test. This may be necessary in order to determine the disease of the patient.
- In the case of complications, additional costs may be necessary for treatment and medication until the patient is able to fully recover.
- Re-tests may be required in case the first barium swallow test fails. This may require additional charges as well.
Tips to know
- Ask around for the cost of barium swallow test in your local hospital or clinic. You can visit them or make phone calls and get price estimates. You can also ask for information from your doctor where you can find a reliable barium swallow test.
- When you have this test done, the technician will have your remove items such as jewelry, dentures, hair clips, etc. It would be easier to just leave these items at home so that you will not have to worry about it once you are at the doctor’s office.
Complications in rare cases
- There are some people who may be allergic to the barium drink, which may cause an allergic reaction.
- After the test, the patient may suffer from constipation for a few days.
- It is possible to accidentally get barium in your windpipe.
How can I save money?
- You can save money when you pay in cash at most doctor’s offices. For those that cannot afford the procedure can also take advantage of financial plans that many doctor’s offices offer. Be sure to discuss these options with your doctor’s office.
- Make sure that you follow your doctor’s advice before and after the barium swallow test so that you would be able to recover from your health condition and avoid additional expenses for additional tests and treatments. Generally, after the test, you will be asked to stick to a low-fiber diet and will have to refrain from eating or smoking after midnight before the exam.