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Chest x-rays are helpful to diagnose a wide range of medical conditions. Doctors use them to get a better look at the lungs, heart, blood vessels, airways, bones, and even the spinal column. You will usually get a chest x-ray at the hospital or an outpatient imaging setting.
If you need a chest x-ray, a common question many people have is, “Does Medicare cover Chest X-rays?” In this article, we answer the question in clear, plain English. You will also find the average costs of chest x rays, as well as other helpful info.
Does Medicare Cover Chest X Rays?
The short answer is yes; Medicare will cover the cost of chest x rays. But not 100% of the time. As is often the case with Medicare, certain conditions have to be met in order for Medicare to pay for your chest x-ray. Below we look at what these are so you know what to expect.
Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) provides coverage for most x rays, including chest x rays.
Medicare Part A will provide coverage for chest x rays if you are admitted as an inpatient in a hospital or inpatient setting once the test is done. It is recommended that you ask your healthcare provider first about your inpatient status. Sometimes it is not clear whether you are admitted as an inpatient or just under observation.
Your status will affect which Medicare will cover your chest X-ray. If coverage is under Medicare Part A, they will also cover any tests and services you need during an inpatient stay.
Medicare Part B will provide coverage for chest x rays if they are done in an outpatient setting. You may get outpatient chest x-ray tests on the following medical facilities:
- Outpatient surgery center
- Physician’s office
- Emergency rooms
- Urgent care center
- Hospitals that offer outpatient radiology services
Medicare Part B will cover 80% of the costs.
Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) also provide coverage for chest x rays. They cover everything Original Medicare covers along with some additional benefits. However, out-of-pocket costs will vary depending on the plan provided by the plan providers.
How Much Does Chest X Rays Cost?
Chest X-rays usually cost around $200 to $400 or more. The costs of a chest x-ray will depend on some factors, including the number of views taken and the location.
How Do Chest X Rays Work?
X-rays use electromagnetic radiation. When the radiation comes to contact with the skin and other soft tissues, these areas do not absorb the radiation. These soft tissues show up as the dark spots in the image.
However, denser body parts such as bones as well as heart muscles can absorb the radiation and appear white in the images. This gives medical professionals a clear image of what’s going on in your body.
X-ray tests are easy as they do not require special preparation before the test itself, and unlike a MRI, it does not require you to remove metal implants.
Note: Medicare coverage changes all the time. And your specific coverage may vary from plan to plan for Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans. Always be sure to double check with your health care provider and/or Medicare insurance provider about what your plan covers and what it does not.
Additional Info on Medicare Coverage
This article is part of our series on “What does Medicare cover?”
Also, you can check out other articles in this series including: Does Medicare cover Secondary Cataract Surgery?