A bone density test costs between USD 125 and USD 200 if one does not have health insurance. Thankfully, Medicare and private insurance companies generally cover the cost of the test.
A bone density test is used to determine whether one has osteoporosis or is at the risk of developing the same. Typically, it is recommended for post menopausal women or men between the ages of 50 and 70, with one or more risk factors for bone thinning (osteoporosis). It helps to identify the decrease in the density of bones and monitor the treatment that is administered for osteoporosis.
How Much Does a Bone Density Test Cost?
A bone density test is conducted on bones that are most likely to break. These include the lumbar vertebrae, the narrow neck of the bone adjoining the hip, and the bones of the wrist and forearm. Both central and peripheral devices are used for conducting the tests.
The DXA scan or Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan, measures the bone density at the hip and the spine. The cost of DXA varies between USD 125 and USD 200, assuming that one does not have medical insurance. The amount seems huge considering that the test takes between 5 to 10 minutes. A Quantitative CT scan can also be used to determine density at the spine. These tests, viz., Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans and Quantitative CT scan, cost much more than the tests conducted using peripheral devices.
Peripheral devices are used for conducting density tests on the bones of the wrist, finger, heel, and forearm. They are small portable devices that are found even in pharmacies. The cost of this test is around USD 30. However, peripheral devices are not suitable for people who have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis.
Does Insurance Cover the Cost?
Insurance companies typically cover the cost of a bone density test if the insured person is on medication that causes bone thinning, is post menopausal, and is not on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or has had a fracture. In addition to the regular premium, depending on the nature of the coverage, one may be required to pay a certain portion of the cost of the test. If the health insurance plan has a copay option, one will be required to pay either USD 10 or USD 30 for the test.
Coinsurance option, on the other hand, will demand a participation rate of 20 or 40 percent of the cost of the test, depending upon whether one visits a doctor who is within the Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO) network or chooses to go with a health care provider who does not fall within the network.
People who are 65 years of age or older, have entered the US lawfully, and have lived in the country for at least 5 years, are eligible for Medicare. Medical insurance (Medicare) covers the cost of bone density tests for estrogen-deficient women who are at risk of osteoporosis, for people with primary hyperparathyroidism and for those on steroids. People with spinal abnormalities are also covered for the cost of this test. The monthly premium for Medicare is USD 96.40. The insured is expected to pay 20 percent of the cost in addition to meeting the USD 135.00 annual deductible. Moreover, the insured is allowed to repeat the test once in every two years.
The month of May is recognized as the National Osteoporosis Prevention Month and it is possible for people to avail a discount of as much as 20 percent on the cost of the test. A number of organizations offer this discount with the intention of promoting awareness about osteoporosis.