How Much Does a Biopsy Cost?

Last Updated on May 8, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Receiving an accurate and timely medical diagnosis is an essential first step in being able to implement appropriate and effective treatment plans targeting underlying conditions.

A biopsy involves extracting a small sample of cells or tissue to be sent for laboratory analysis in order to definitively identify the presence of diseases like cancer or other abnormalities. But what costs should patients expect to be responsible for when undergoing this common procedure?

The out-of-pocket price to the patient for a biopsy can range significantly based on elements like the specific biopsy method used, the location in the body being sampled, whether hospitalization is required, and health insurance particulars.

This guide examines average biopsy costs, explains insurance impacts, and provides money saving strategies to make this diagnostic procedure more accessible.

How Much Does a Biopsy Cost?

Costs for a biopsy can be as low as $100 for a simple skin biopsy performed in an outpatient clinic, and up to $10,000 for extensive biopsies requiring hospital operating room time.

The specific type of biopsy being performed significantly influences the total costs involved:

Needle Biopsies

  • Fine Needle Aspiration: $500 – $1500
  • Core Needle Biopsy: $800 – $4000

Skin Biopsies

  • Shave Biopsy: $100 – $300
  • Punch Biopsy: $200 – $500
  • Incisional Biopsy: $300 – $1000

Surgical Biopsies

  • Breast Biopsy: $2000 – $5000+
  • Bone Biopsy: $1000 – $3000
  • Liver Biopsy: $1000 – $5000

Endoscopy Biopsies

  • GI Tract Biopsy: $800 – $5000
  • Lung Biopsy: $5000 – $7500+

In general, less invasive needle and skin biopsies performed in outpatient settings tend to be least expensive, while surgical biopsies requiring operating room time and endoscopic procedures with expensive specialized equipment cost significantly more given the facilities involved.

According to MDsave, the cost of a liver biopsy starts at $1,824. This website provides a comprehensive overview of the procedure and its costs, including the average cost of a liver biopsy, which can range from $1,500 to $300,022.

Medical Costs Finder, a tool to find and understand costs for GP and medical specialist services across Australia, provides detailed information on the cost of a breast biopsy. For private hospital patients, the typical fees and costs can range from $1,100 to $1,900, with 72% of patients having out-of-pocket costs. The website also highlights that hospital fees may include accommodation, theatre, or medical devices, and that private health insurers typically cover most of these costs.

Overview of Biopsy Types

Some standard biopsy methods a physician may employ:

  • Needle Biopsy – Small sample collected through a hollow needle. Used for organs like lung, kidney, thyroid, and liver.
  • Skin Biopsy – Shaves off thin top layer of skin cells for microscope analysis. Checks for cancer, infections, rashes, and other conditions.
  • Surgical Biopsy – Surgeon harvests tissue sample by making incision into patient’s body. Useful for breast, bone marrow, lymph node, and other deeper tissue biopsies.
  • Endoscopy Biopsy – Specialized endoscopes inserted into body cavities allow the removal of samples from the gastrointestinal tract, lungs, throat, bladder, and other locations.

The method chosen and location biopsied depend on the suspected underlying condition being evaluated by the medical team. Analyzing the cellular morphology guides diagnosis and identifies suitable treatment pathways specific to the patient.

Factors Influencing the Cost of Biopsies

Beyond just the biopsy technique itself, several additional factors also impact the costs:

Sampled Body Location and Organ

Hard to access areas like lungs or brain cost more than easily reached tissues like skin lesions. Multiple samples add expenses.

Inpatient Hospitalization vs. Outpatient Facility

Biopsies performed in hospitals as an inpatient accrue substantially higher facility fees, specialist charges, and medications costs compared to outpatient clinics.

General Anesthesia Requirements

Needing general anesthesia instead of just local numbing adds thousands to costs due to anesthesia professional fees and medications.

Insurance Plan Health Coverage Details

Out-of-pocket responsibility varies based on the patient’s plan deductible, copays, coinsurance, in-network status of the facility, and biopsy coverage limitations.

Gaining familiarity with these cost factors allows patients to better estimate anticipated biopsy expenses based on their unique situation.

Price Ranges for Common Biopsy Types

Skin Biopsies

The simplest and most affordable biopsy option, ranging from:

  • Shave Biopsy: $100 to $300
  • Punch Biopsy: $200 to $500
  • Incisional Biopsy: $300 to $1000

Breast Biopsies

Common for cancer screening, with prices spanning:

  • Needle Core Biopsy: $500 to $6000
  • Stereotactic Biopsy: $2000 to $5000+
  • Surgical Biopsy: $5000 to $10,000+

Gastrointestinal Biopsies

Checks for celiac, cancers, and other GI issues:

  • Endoscopy Biopsy: $800 to $5000
  • Colon Biopsy: $2000 to $5000+

Lung Biopsies

Diagnoses lung diseases like infections or cancer:

  • Needle Biopsy: $1000 to $5000
  • Bronchoscopy Biopsy: $5000 to $7500+
  • Surgical Biopsy: $10,000+

Within each biopsy type, sample location complexity and anesthesia needs vary prices significantly. Outpatient settings provide major savings.

You might also like our articles about the cost of blood tests, STD testing, or Kariotype tests.

What Insurance Typically Covers for Biopsies

Most private and government-sponsored plans recognize biopsies as essential preventive care and cover a portion, but coverage varies:


Covers 100% of costs for colorectal, breast, and some cancer biopsies. Others have 20% coinsurance. Deductible applies.


Varies by state. Many have small copays or coinsurance. Deductibles are lower than private insurance.

Private Insurance

Most cover medically necessary biopsies but at in-network facilities. Copays ($30-$50) and plan deductibles ($1,000+) apply. Outpatient settings save costs.

Patients should thoroughly confirm personal plan details to avoid billing surprises. Seek financial assistance if needed. Uninsured patients can negotiate prices and payment plans.

Strategies to Lower Your Biopsy Costs

Lung BiopsyWhile biopsy costs are largely unavoidable, some tactics can potentially yield meaningful individual savings:

  • Have biopsy performed at an outpatient facility instead of hospital when sufficient. Saves thousands in facility fees.
  • Discuss options to avoid general anesthesia which adds thousands. Local lidocaine numbing reduces drugs used.
  • Compare costs between hospitals and clinics. Choose in-network providers when able.
  • Negotiate discounts for cash payment or set up interest-free payment plans if uninsured.
  • Thoroughly review itemized bills and insurance explanations of benefits for errors. Appeal if needed.
  • Check if providers offer financial hardship assistance funds or charity care programs you qualify for.

With some diligence and resourcefulness, patients may reduce ancillary charges to make biopsy care more affordable in challenging circumstances.

Biopsy’s Role in Modern Healthcare

Biopsies provide invaluable diagnostic information that simply cannot be matched through scans or bloodwork alone. By conclusively identifying whether malignant cells are present and how conditions have progressed on a microscopic level, physicians can then tailor the most effective treatments to combat diseases like cancers based on each patient’s unique pathology report findings.

While costs are certainly a consideration, and pricing transparency remains limited, biopsies facilitate lifesaving precision care plans tailored to each person’s needs – a central goal of modern medical treatment. Patients should not fear costs given the overall implications on their long-term wellbeing and survival.

Final Words

While biopsies range significantly in pricing based on type, location, facility, and insurance factors, they remain essential diagnostic procedures supporting effective care.

Seek financial assistance when eligible. With proper planning, vital biopsies can be responsibly managed even on restricted healthcare budgets.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is biopsy very painful?

For most patients, undergoing a biopsy involves only minor momentary discomfort during the brief tissue collection itself. The area is numbed using injected local anesthetics beforehand.

Patients may have residual soreness afterwards but serious lingering pain is uncommon since only tiny samples are extracted. The psychological stress of testing can exceed the physical discomfort.

How long do biopsy results take?

The timeframe to receive biopsy results varies based on the sample location, testing techniques required, lab backlogs, and other factors. However, most patients can expect to receive preliminary biopsy results back in 1-2 weeks.

More extensive antibody or genetic marker testing can extend final result reporting to 2-4 weeks in some instances. Doctors expedite cancer biopsy results when possible.

Are you put to sleep for a biopsy?

Extensive surgical biopsies into deeper body tissues like the breast or lungs that require hospital operating rooms and sizable tissue extraction typically necessitate full general anesthesia for the duration.

However, most minimally invasive fine needle aspirations or skin biopsies can be readily performed using local lidocaine injections and mild conscious sedation medications alone. Discuss options with your doctor.

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