How Much Does Back Surgery Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 15, 2018

Back surgery is a last resort for many and is only needed in certain situations.  It will often be recommended when non-surgical treatments failed.

How much is the cost of back surgery?

The cost of back surgery will be dependent on so many factors.  This can include the surgery type, surgeon, hospital, recovery time and geographical location.

Researchers recently analyzed Medicare data and compared the two popular surgeries:  the anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), and the posterior lumbar fusion (PLF).  Average national costs for these procedures were $14,000 for the ACDF and $26,000 for a single-level PLF.  These costs, however, could go up and down depending on the geographical area.  These fees didn’t factor in the professional or facility costs.

According to Surgery-Guide.com, more complicated surgeries, such as a Spondylodesis fusion, can cost you upwards of $17,000+.

According to NewAmerica.net, a spinal fusion can cost anywhere from $25,000 to as much as $50,000+ without insurance.

Endoscopic back surgery procedures can range from $5,000 to as much as $8,500.

A Spondylodesis back surgery can range anywhere from $10,000 to as much as $16,000.

A laminectomy can vary anywhere from $60,000 to as much as $100,000+

All of the prices listed above are for those who don’t have health insurance.  For those who have a health insurance policy, be sure to check with your policy as most will cover as long as it’s deemed medically necessary.  If this is the case, you’ll be responsible for your co-pay and deductibles.  Keep in mind, however, some insurance companies may fight your claim if they feel they don’t agree with the doctor’s recommendation.  If an insurance company challenges your claim, Back.com shows you to successfully file an appeal.

Type of SurgeryPrice Range (without insurance)
Anterior Cervical Fusion$40,000 to $60,000
Cervical Fusion$18,000 to $30,000
Decompression Surgery$20,000 to $35,000
Laser Back Surgery$35,000 to $95,000
Lumbar Laminectomy$15,000 to $25,000
Lumbar Spinal Fusion$25,000 to $45,000

NOTE:  This is the per-surgery costs and won’t include the medications, MRI and rehab.  Adding these fees in, along with miscellaneous hospital fees, can add $80,000 to $120,000 to this number.

What are the extra costs?

Since the procedure will be held in a local hospital, local hospital fees are going to apply.  Bed fees, the doctor fees, TV fees, surgery fees may be included in your final invoice.  Without insurance, this can easily cost you $1,500+ a day.  All hospitals will have its own billing policies, so it’s best to discuss the billing policies ahead of time.

After the surgery is said and done, prescriptions will be prescribed.  You will be required to take the medication for a limited time until you’re recovered at 100%.

Follow up appointments will be necessary, and the amount will depend on the severity of the surgery.

Depending on the surgery, you may have to attend weekly physical therapy.  Without insurance, it can run $100+ a session.

Optional supplies, such as a back brace or cane, may be required depending on the surgery.

Common back surgery types

Discectomy

A discectomy will remove a portion of the disc, which will help relieve nerve pressure.

Endoscopic Back Surgery

This surgery will utilize a smaller tube, which is inserted through a small incision.  Viewed with a video camera, this procedure can help with pinched nerves and stabilize joints.

Laminectomy

This procedure will require the bones to be removed that overlay the spinal cord.  This will help reduce pressure on the bones.

Spinal Fusion

A spinal fusion will fuse two or more vertebrae to either correct a deformity or help relieve pain.  During this procedure, a surgeon will harvest small bones from either your pelvic bone or hip, and he or she will place them in between the vertebrae.  To offer stability, rods, metal cages and screws may be needed.

Spondylodesis Back Surgery

Also known as a spinal fusion, these fuses will relieve pressure that has been put on the nerves.  During this surgery, ligaments will be removed that are surrounding the nerves.

Vertebroplasty

This procedure will require the injection of a bone cement.  This cement will stabilize the area, as well as help reduce the back pain.

Tips to know

Research suggests more than 90 percent of back surgeries performed are considered unnecessary and ineffective.  This study also notes the United States is 40 percent higher than any other countries when it comes to back surgery procedures.

When to have back surgery

If you have found other options, such as physical therapy or the chiropractor, over the past few months isn’t working.

Disk problems, such as the bulging or ruptured disks, may press too tightly against a spinal nerve, which can affect its function.

Osteoarthritis often results in bone spurs overgrowing, narrowing the amount of space available for your nerves to pass through your spine’s opening.

If you can’t function and perform daily activities.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, most back problems can be taken care of with nonsurgical treatments.

How can I save money?

If you don’t have insurance, be sure to highly consider it via your work or get a personal policy.  Websites, such as eHealthInsurance.com, can help you find an affordable policy.

If you meet certain income requirements, you may be able to qualify for Medicaid.

Surgery may not be required.  Instead, you may want to consult with a physical therapist to see if they can help you with certain exercises.

To those paying out of pocket, many hospitals would be more than willing to offer a discount to those paying up front with cash.

Local teaching hospitals may be able to do the procedure for up to 50 percent less than local hospitals.


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