How much does an EKG really cost?

Most people reading this post have someone of an familiarity of an electrocardiogram, otherwise known as a EKG or more appropriately an ECG.  For those without an understanding I am sure you have heard the term brought up at some point in your life whether for yourself or a loved one.  

An EKG is a rapid, pain-free, and safe examination of the electrical activity within your heart.  The procedure includes attaching small electrodes to your chest and possibly your arms and legs to capture a real-time “picture” of your heart and its electrical activity.  

With this test your physician will be able to identify the following:

  • Identify your underlying heart rhythm 
  • Detect any acute abnormalities
  • Diagnose a heart attack 
  • Changes in previous EKGs
  • Detect possible electrolyte imbalances

Now that you have a sense of what an EKG is and why it might be ordered or suggested to you I think its important to dive into what this test might cost you?  There are many factors that are associated with the cost of this test.  

The most obvious will be geographic location.  There are going to be different variances in price depending on where you are having this test done.  The second main factor that will affect the price you pay depends on whether or not the individual is insured and what their insurance covers.

How much does an EKG cost without insurance?

For those of you that are like many in our country you may have a high deductible insurance plan or may be without insurance altogether.  That means more money out of your pocket, so when you hear the doctor ordering tests you may be hesitant in accepting them all.  

Here is a national average of what an EKG will cost you out of pocket with more than 20 states providing data to get these results.  According to the information provided, the average cost of an EKG without insurance is approximately $192.  Keep in mind that these tests are often repeated as well should any abnormalities be found or your condition change.

How much does an EKG machine cost?

The cost of acquiring an EKG machine ranges widely.  Some older, refurbished machines can be purchased online for as little as a 1500 dollars, however, with the newer technology available and most medical record systems being digital newer machines are preferred.  

The cost of one of these newer EKG machines can cost upwards of thirteen to fifteen thousand dollars for a standard model.  Keep in mind there are other costs associated with purchasing this type of equipment.  Paper, leads, training and maintaining make owning an EKG all the more expensive.

What about wearables?

As mentioned above the technology is changing and it is changing rapidly, new smartwatches can now capture a 2 lead EKG tracing for free that can be sent over to your physician.  The usability is very slim and low; however, it gives you a good representation of what the future might hold.

 There also exists some smaller handheld devices that can capture limited lead tracings as well to do similar functions as the smartwatches.  It is predictable that soon enough, everyone will have access to some form of personal device that could perform limited if not full EKG tracing.  In the interim, lets talk about where you can get an EKG test performed.

Where to get an EKG?

An EKG test can be done in many different settings and by multiple individuals trained in performing them.  The most standard place an EKG will be done is in the emergency department.  When a patient presents with a complaint of chest pain or something similar an EKG will always be ordered and analyzed by an emergency physician.  Urgent care centers will also perform this test if they feel it is necessary.  

Not all primary physician offices will offer this service, chances are your doctor may give you a referral to a cardiologist to have the EKG performed.  Another common place to have an EKG would be in the back of an ambulance.  In the event that you had a cardiac event, or something related a paramedic would attach you to a portable EKG machine and capture a tracing for interpretation. 

There are many instances when an individual will have an electrocardiogram performed on them, the prices again varying depending on the location and reason for the test.  Always check with your insurance carrier if you have one to see exactly how much of this test would be covered.  If not refer to the quick links above to give you a better understanding of the test and associated costs.

Leave a Comment