The colon, also known as the large intestine, is the last section of the digestive system and ends at the anus. This relatively large organ can be the source of bleeding and a place in which cancer grows, especially in people over the age of 50. A procedure called a colonoscopy is used to diagnose and sometimes treat diseases of the colon. During a colonoscopy, a physician passes a long, thin, flexible instrument into and along the length of the colon. This colonoscopy has a light, camera, and various retractable instruments that can be used to perform the colonoscopy.
Because diseases of the colon are so common, a routine surveillance colonoscopy is recommended for everyone over the age of 50 at least once every ten years. For people with acute colon troubles, such as bleeding, a colonoscopy may need to be performed earlier than age 50 and more frequently. For those that have health insurance, most or all of the cost of colonoscopy should be covered. In fact, over 20 states have laws mandating that colonoscopy be covered by medical insurance plans. However for those who an uninsured or underinsured, this important procedure may need to be paid for out of pocket. Even in those people who have good health insurance, deductibles, co-pays, and other fees may be as high as $1,000 or more. This article provides a range of colonoscopy costs.
The cost of a colonoscopy can vary greatly depending on the region of the United States and the medical venue. According to Blue Cross Blue Shield, the cost of an outpatient screening colonoscopy at a hospital is $2,040; however the colonoscopy costs about half that amount, $1,203, when it is performed at an ambulatory surgical center. If you have your colonoscopy at a physician’s office, the cost is just under $900 on average. Why the different price? While the gastroenterologist’s fees may differ slightly between locations, the colonoscopy cost difference between venues is most often due to differences in facility fees.
The cost of colonoscopy increases if there is something abnormal found during the colonoscopy. One of the most common abnormalities found during a colonoscopy is a polyp, which can denote cancer but often does not. Polyps in the colon are usually removed using an instrument in the colonoscopy and sent for analysis by a pathologist. A pathologist is a physician and medical specialist that microscopically examines the polyp with special tissue stains and markers. This analysis is very important for ruling out the presence of colon cancer but increases the cost of the colonoscopy overall.
The cost of colonoscopy could increase considerably if the procedure is done emergently. An emergency colonoscopy might occur because of bleeding in the GI tract. An emergency colonoscopy usually costs more because it is not performed under ideal conditions and the risk of complications is increased. While the patient might need it in order to save his life, the gastroenterologist also opens herself up to legal action should something go wrong. Since medical malpractice premiums are quite high for physicians, higher risk procedures are billed at a higher rate to recoup some of this additional cost.