How Much Does a Pap Smear Cost?

Written by: Staff

A pap smear test, sometimes referred to as a pap test, is a screening test used to check for pre-cancerous cell changes in the cervix.  This test is recommended every three years for women who are either older than 21 or shortly after their first intercourse session.

Herpes-infected squamous cells, ThinPrep by euthman, on Flickr
Herpes-infected squamous cells, ThinPrep” (CC BY 2.0) by euthman

How much does a pap smear cost?

A pap smear can cost anywhere from $80 to $200 without insurance. However, if you do have an insurance policy, it will be covered 100 percent of the time since it’s considered a preventative test. notes these test will be covered by most insurance policies and there won’t be any out-of-pocket costs.  This is one of the very few preventative services that are performed without a co-pay.

Pap smear overview

Following conducting a pelvic exam, the doctor will use a scraper or a smaller sized brush to collect a small sample of cervical cells.  These cells will be deposited on a slide and then sent off to a lab for further analysis.  This is a simple and quick test and lab results will be available in two to three weeks.

The test will check for any abnormal cell changes in the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus.  If these cell changes are left untreated, it can lead to cervical cancer, potentially saving your life.  If caught early enough, the chance of successful treatment for cancer will be relatively high.

What are the extra costs?

Some doctor’s offices will bill the lab fee separately and this bill will come at a later date.

While rare, less than 25 percent of pap smears may show some abnormal results.  If this were the scenario, the doctor may want to run a series of tests or set up an appointment for the future.  These tests could include a biopsy if cancer is suspected or additional testing such as HPV testing for the human papillomavirus.  Having an abnormal pap test won’t mean you necessarily have cervical cancer.

The test can oftentimes show something that isn’t normal, but it can go away over time.  However, to make certain of this, most doctors will recommend another test and/or a future follow-up visit, which can be equivalent to a doctor’s office fee.

Tips to know:

Leading women authorities recommend women start getting these tests routinely, at least every three years, after they turn 21.  At 30, the American Cancer Society says as long as you test for HPV at the same time, you will only need the test every five years.

While some women need these tests more frequently, it should be performed at least every three years.  Women should continue to receive these tests until they turn 65 years old.  As long as women over 65 don’t have any abnormal pap smears within the last 10 years, they will be able to discontinue the tests.  This decision must always be made by the primary physician.

Women who are at a higher risk fo rcervical cancer may be given more pap smears based on their health status.

The test can be uncomfortable and may cause slight bleeding.

Doctors suggest making an appointment 10 to 20 days after the first day of your period.

How can I save money?

There are local Planned Parenthood offices available nationwide and can offer low-cost or free options for those who have a lower income.  The organization will charge based on a sliding income scale.  Local country health departments may offer the test for a discount as well.

Those who are at or below the 250 percent poverty level, you may be able to qualify for the CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.

If you have insurance, it’s more than likely going to be covered 100 percent as long as the doctor is in network.  Most insurance companies will cover this test once per year, but to be certain, talk with your insurance provider to see what your policy includes.

Some doctor offices may have a cash discount for those who don’t have an insurance plan.

If you don’t have insurance, call a few doctor’s offices to see what they charge.  Any reputable office should be able to offer a “ballpark” quote over the phone for just the test.

This test may be covered by Medicaid or Medicare.

College students can check with their school to see if any discounted health services are available.

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Average Reported Cost: $229.4

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  1. Jojo (Glendale,  California) paid $229.40 and said:

    Exam 125.00, lab test for pap 114.40

    Was it worth it? Yes

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