How much should your spinal surgery cost?
Spinal surgery is an option for people struggling with back pain, spinal instability, or spinal deformities. It’s typically recommended when non-surgical treatments have failed to relieve back pain caused by a pinched nerve, compression in the spinal cord, or excess movement between vertebrae.
There are many different types of spinal surgery, and the right one for you will depend on your specific situation. Generally, most types of spinal surgery can fit into the following three categories:
- Spinal decompression surgeries, such as diskectomy, laminectomy, and foraminotomy, are intended to treat symptoms caused by the narrowing of spaces between the vertebrae and spinal cord. During these surgeries, part or all of one or more vertebrae are cut away to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves that branch out of it.
- Spinal fusion surgery is a procedure that permanently connects two or more vertebrae in your spine. During this procedure, a surgeon places a bone graft between the vertebrae so they heal together into a single bone. The surgeon may also use metal plates, rods, or screws to help secure the vertebrae together. Spinal fusion is used to treat spinal instability and pain caused by vertebrae rubbing together.
- Vertebral augmentation surgery, such as vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty, is a method of treating compression fractures in the vertebrae. These fractures are often caused by osteoporosis, and they can lead to back pain and mobility issues. During vertebral augmentation surgery, a surgeon uses a special cement to repair the fracture in the bone.
How much does spinal surgery cost?
The average cost for spinal decompression surgery in the United States is $23,500. No matter which type of spinal surgery you get, actual prices can vary greatly depending on your specific procedure.
One of the main factors that will influence the cost of your spinal surgery is whether you have it performed at an inpatient facility, such as a hospital, or an outpatient surgery center. In the past, getting your spinal surgery at the hospital was your only option. Now, many types of spinal surgeries are performed in outpatient surgery centers with similar success and safety rates as those performed in hospitals.
Outpatient centers are just as safe as hospitals but could save you thousands on your medical bill.
Based on our data, the target fair price for most types of spinal surgery is $14,250, whether you have health insurance or not.
- Spinal decompression surgery: $17,400
- Spinal fusion surgery: $29,720
- Vertebral augmentation surgery: $36,880
- Spinal decompression surgery: $8800 – $19,600+
- Spinal fusion surgery: $17,250 – $45,500+
- Vertebral augmentation surgery: $23,500 – $67,900+
Outpatient Facility Average:
- Spinal decompression surgery: $13,500
- Spinal fusion surgery: $21,690
- Vertebral augmentation surgery: $24,280
Inpatient Facility Average:
- Spinal decompression surgery: $19,440
- Spinal fusion surgery: $37,820
- Vertebral augmentation surgery: $47,190
Target Fair Price:
- Spinal decompression surgery: $10,750
- Spinal fusion surgery: $19,275
- Vertebral augmentation surgery: $25,800
Below, you’ll learn what can affect the cost of your spinal surgery, as well as how to find a fair price for your procedure.
Specific Spinal Surgery Procedures and National Cost Averages
Which factors affect how much spinal surgery costs?
Regardless of which type of spinal surgery you’re getting, there are many things that can affect the price you ultimately pay for your procedure. The three factors main factors that may impact the price of your surgery are:
- Facility setting — Where you have your spinal surgery done affects the cost. Inpatient facilities, like hospitals, tend to cost more to run than outpatient surgery centers. That means that you’ll typically end up paying more for an inpatient procedure than an outpatient procedure.
- Health insurance — If you have health insurance, the cost of spinal surgery can depend on your specific insurance provider. How much you pay will depend on what percentage of the procedure your insurance plan covers, if any at all. It will also depend on how close you are to hitting your deductible. If you don’t have health insurance, you’ll be responsible for paying the full cost of your surgery out-of-pocket.
- Location — The region, state, and even city you live in can affect the cost of your spinal surgery. If you live in a rural area with fewer healthcare facilities to choose from, you can expect to pay more than you would if you lived in a city with many providers. Traveling for a medical procedure can be a great money-saving option.
Insured vs. uninsured cost differences
Insured patients can typically expect to pay less than uninsured patients for spinal surgery, especially when they choose a provider and facility that’s in their health insurance network.
In-network vs. out-of-network cost differences
In-network costs only relate to patients who have health insurance. Providers that are in your insurance network will almost always be cheaper than out-of-network providers.
Nearly everyone who has any type of spinal surgery will have to pay some of the cost out-of-pocket. Uninsured patients will be responsible for the total cost of their surgery.
Patients with health insurance will be responsible for paying their deductible, copay, and coinsurance amounts. The amount of each of these costs depends on your health plan.
To avoid unexpected charges, talk to your insurance provider about your payment responsibility before scheduling your surgery.
More factors that affect the cost of spinal surgery
- Prescriptions — A physician may prescribe painkillers or antibiotics after your surgery. To avoid high prescription prices, make sure your health insurance policy covers the medications you receive. You can also ask if there is a generic version of the same medicine, which can help lower the cost.
- Additional office visits — In some cases, you may be charged a separate fee for an initial consultation with the surgeon before the surgery. Your doctor may also want to see you for follow-up appointments throughout the first year after your surgery. Ask about the cost of these different visits and whether they’re included in the total cost of your procedure.
Are there alternatives to spinal surgery?
If your doctor tells you that you need spinal surgery, it’s usually because you’ve tried other options to relieve your pain or discomfort without success. Depending on your specific condition, you may try these options before opting for spinal surgery:
- Physical therapy
- Over-the-counter pain medications
- Steroid injections
- Spinal manipulation using chiropractic or massage
If non-surgical options don’t work to alleviate your symptoms, your doctor may start to talk to you about spinal surgery. The type of surgery you get will depend on your personal health and your doctor’s recommendations.
Feel free to ask your doctor why they’re recommending any procedure. If you’re unsure about their recommendations, you always have the right to a second opinion. Don’t be afraid to use it!
Your spinal surgery checklist
- Review the total cost of your procedure with your surgeon. Ask them to explain what each cost is for and keep a record. If you get a medical bill that’s higher than you expected, this information will come in handy.
- Ask your surgeon if they can perform the procedure in an outpatient setting.
- Check that all providers are in-network. Sometimes a provider who treats you will be out-of-network (this often happens with anesthesiologists). You can avoid this by asking your surgeon whether all of the providers who will treat you are in-network for your insurance.
- Ask what the typical cost is if the surgeon finds other areas that need to be repaired during your procedure. You can also ask how likely this is to happen.
Finding a fair price for your spinal surgery
While the national average for spinal surgery is $23,500, figuring out how much you should pay can be confusing. New Choice Health thinks it shouldn’t be. Our cost comparison tool can help you easily compare spinal surgery costs at facilities near you to find a fair price for your procedure.
Then, when you’re ready to schedule your procedure, New Choice Health’s Spine Surgery Assist program can help you find financing and cash pay discounts to decrease the overall cost you pay.