How Much Does a Cortisone Shot Cost?

Last Updated on March 1, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Cortisone shots can provide fast and effective pain relief, but how much does this treatment actually cost? With rising healthcare expenses, it’s important to understand the factors that influence cortisone shot pricing.

This article will examine the costs associated with cortisone injections, including insurance coverage, out-of-pocket fees, and ways to reduce expenses. Read on to learn more about what goes into the price of this common treatment.

Cortisone is a medication that is often injected directly into swollen, inflamed joints and tissues. Cortisone shots work by reducing inflammation and suppressing the immune system in the injected area.

This can provide rapid and powerful pain relief from conditions like arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, and others. The quick action of cortisone makes it an appealing option when pain medication and other conservative treatments are not working.

While cortisone shots can be very effective, they are not cheap. The exact cortisone injection cost depends on several key factors. These include the type of provider administering the shots, your geographical location, your insurance coverage, and the complexity of your particular treatment.

How Much Does a Cortisone Shot Cost?

Average per-injection costs for cortisone shots typically range from around $100 on the low end up to $1,000 on the high end, with most people falling somewhere in the $200 to $500 range depending on the provider, location, insurance, joint complexity, and other factors.

Here are some examples of cortisone shot costs based on the influencing factors:

  • Provider Type
    • Primary care doctor: $100-$200 per injection
    • Orthopedist: $200-$400 per injection
    • Hospital/Surgery Center: $300-$1,000 per injection
  • Geographic Location
    • Major Cities (NYC, LA, Chicago): $300-$500 per injection
    • Mid-sized Cities: $200-$400 per injection
    • Rural Areas: $100-$300 per injection
  • Insurance Status
    • With Insurance: $0-$100 copay per injection
    • Uninsured/Cash Price: $300-$1,000 per injection
  • Joint Injected
    • Small Joint (fingers, toes): $100-$300 per injection
    • Medium Joint (knees, elbows): $200-$500 per injection
    • Large Joint (hips, shoulders): $300-$800 per injection
  • Additional Factors
    • One Joint: $100-$500 per injection
    • Multiple Joints: $300-$1,000 per session
    • Ultrasound Guidance: Add $100-$200 to cost
    • Fluoroscopy Guidance: Add $200-$400 to cost

According to Healthline, Cortisone shots typically cost roughly $100 to $300 but can exceed $1,000, with variations based on the clinic, location, and type of shot received.

Mira writes that without insurance, the cost of a cortisone shot ranges between $100 to $300 depending on the type of shot, with additional fees possibly associated with the injection.

GoodRx notes that prices for cortisone injections start at $229.02 at various pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens.

Dr. Jorge Chahla states that if cortisone injections are not covered by insurance, they can cost between $150 to $300, while gel injections range from $300 to $1,500. PRP injections vary from $500 to $1,500 depending on the state.

According to Medicare, patients pay an average of $84 for therapeutic injections like cortisone when performed at a non-hospital facility, with the cost at a hospital averaging $146.

Factors Influencing the Cost of Cortisone Injections

Several variables affect how much you will pay out-of-pocket for cortisone injections. These include:

Type of Provider

The type of healthcare provider performing the cortisone shots can significantly impact the cost. Injections performed by specialists like orthopedists, rheumatologists, and pain medicine doctors will be more expensive than those done in a primary care clinic.

Office-based providers also tend to charge less than hospital facilities.

Geographic Location

Where you live plays a role in cortisone shot pricing. The cost of living and healthcare expenses in your region will influence the rate providers charge for these injections. More populated urban areas typically have higher costs than rural locations.

Insurance Coverage

The details of your health insurance plan have a major effect on your out-of-pocket expenses for cortisone injections. Those with minimal coverage or high deductibles and copays will pay more per shot.

The specifics of your individual policy and insurer determine how much of the cost is your responsibility.

Treatment Complexity

More complicated cortisone injections cost more than simple ones. Factors like the joint being injected, ultrasound or fluoroscopy guidance, multiple injections per session, and medications added to the shot can all increase the provider’s fees and your portion of the payment.

Insurance Coverage for Cortisone Injections

Most health insurance plans cover a portion of the cost of cortisone shots, but the specifics vary widely. Here are some things to understand about insurance and cortisone injection costs:

  • Coverage can differ based on the reason for shots – Cortisone injections for certain diagnoses like rheumatoid arthritis may be covered differently than those for sports injuries or osteoarthritis.
  • Deductibles apply before coverage kicks in – You will likely need to pay your annual deductible first before insurance helps pay for shots.
  • Copays or coinsurance for specialist visits add to costs – You’ll be responsible for copays at each visit for the injections. These are often higher for specialists than for primary care.
  • Preauthorization may be required – Your insurer might require approval before covering cortisone shot costs.
  • Coverage is usually better in-network – Seeing out-of-network providers will increase your out-of-pocket responsibility.
  • Medicare and Medicaid have distinct policies – Government insurance programs have specific rules, limitations, and reimbursement rates for cortisone injections.

Always check the details of your personal policy to understand exactly what you will owe for these shots. Call your insurer if you have any questions about coverage.

We also have interesting articles on the cost of allergy shots, flu shots, and yellow fever vaccines.

Saving on Cortisone Injection Costs

Needle for cortisone ShotIf you are paying high out-of-pocket costs for cortisone shots, here are some tips to reduce expenses:

  • Use in-network providers – Staying in your health plan’s network helps maximize coverage and minimize your fees.
  • Ask about payment plans or financial assistance – Some providers offer no-interest monthly payment plans or sliding scale fees based on income.
  • Use tax-advantaged accounts for healthcare costs – HSAs, FSAs, and HRAs can help pay for out-of-pocket expenses using pre-tax dollars.
  • Take advantage of coupons or manufacturer discounts – Pharmaceutical companies sometimes offer copay coupons for brand-name cortisone injections.
  • Compare prices between providers – Call around or use online tools to estimate and compare the total costs different providers may charge.
  • Space out shots to spread costs over time – Work with your doctor to determine the optimal frequency between injections that balances effectiveness and budget.

Billing and Healthcare Costs

To effectively budget for cortisone shot expenses, it helps to understand some basics about medical billing and managing healthcare costs in general.

How Billing for Cortisone Injections Works

  • Providers perform a CPT code based medical procedure for each cortisone injection. Common codes are 20610 for small joints and 20600 for large joints.
  • An office visit or facility fee is also billed separately from the injection procedure code.
  • Diagnosis codes help determine if the shots are covered for specific conditions. Common diagnoses include M65.9 for synovitis and M25.511 for shoulder joint pain.
  • Providers negotiate contracted rates with insurance plans that establish allowed reimbursement amounts for these services.
  • You receive an explanation of benefits breaking down the total charges, discounts, what insurance paid, and your remaining responsibility.

Budgeting for Healthcare Expenses

Some strategies for planning healthcare costs include:

  • Understanding your insurance benefits and out-of-pocket obligations for the year.
  • Tracking healthcare expenses to estimate spending and identify waste.
  • Asking providers for price estimates before agreeing to treatment.
  • Setting aside pre-tax dollars in HSAs or FSAs for medical costs.
  • Finding ways to reduce expenses by comparing prices, using in-network providers, and exploring financial assistance options.

Final Words

Discuss your specific symptoms, treatment options, and cost concerns with your healthcare provider to determine if cortisone injections are the right choice for affordably managing your condition.

With some research and planning, this treatment can often provide significant pain relief without breaking the bank!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does One Cortisone Shot Last?

The duration of pain relief from a single cortisone shot can vary quite a bit depending on the condition being treated, the joint injected, and the individual patient response. On average, the effects of a single cortisone injection typically last somewhere between 1-6 weeks.

Some patients may experience pain relief for only a week or two, while others report the effects lasting for several months. For chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis, the pain relief is often shorter-lived than when treating acute injuries like tendonitis or bursitis flare-ups.

Relief also seems to last longer when larger joints like the knee are injected compared to smaller joints in the hands or feet.

If the first cortisone shot provides initial pain relief and then wears off, repeating the injection after 1-3 months may extend the benefits. However, most doctors recommend limiting the number of shots to 3-4 per year to avoid risks like joint damage or weakening of soft tissues associated with excessive cortisone exposure.

Talk to your doctor about what to expect in terms of the duration of effects from a cortisone shot for your specific condition. Be sure to communicate how long the pain relief lasts so you can work together to determine optimal timing if and when to repeat injections.

Can I Pay Privately for a Cortisone Injection?

Yes, it is generally possible to pay privately out-of-pocket for a cortisone injection if you do not have health insurance or want to avoid using your coverage. However, the cost for paying privately for cortisone shots can be quite expensive.

Some aspects to understand about private pay options include:

  • Costs are usually higher when not going through insurance, since there are no contracted negotiated rates.
  • Providers may be more willing to offer you a discount or payment plan if you are paying out-of-pocket.
  • You can shop around and compare prices between different providers when paying privately.
  • You will not have any reimbursement from an insurer to help offset the cost of the injections.
  • Privately paying allows you to avoid paperwork, preauthorizations, referrals, or limits from your insurance provider.
  • You can use a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to pay for privately funded care using tax-advantaged money.

To explore private pay options, contact providers directly and ask about costs for uninsured patients. Reputable providers will be transparent about their pricing and your payment obligations before proceeding with treatment.

Is There a Downside to Cortisone Shots?

While cortisone injections can provide rapid pain relief, there are some potential downsides to overusing them. Understanding both the benefits and risks allows you to make informed decisions about treatment.

Some possible disadvantages of cortisone shots include:

  • Only temporary pain relief – Effects wear off over weeks to months.
  • Weakening of tendons and ligaments – Especially with repeated injections.
  • Thinning cartilage and joint damage – Long-term exposure can accelerate arthritis.
  • Increased inflammation or rupture risk – Soon after the shot wears off.
  • Side effects like elevated blood sugar and blood pressure.
  • Requires repeated doctor visits and injections for ongoing relief.
  • Does not treat underlying condition or structural problems.
  • Potentially delays more definitive surgical treatments.

Talk to your doctor about whether the benefits outweigh the potential risks or disadvantages for your situation. Be sure to follow their recommendations for safe frequency and spacing of cortisone injections to minimize side effects. Consider supplementing shots with physical therapy or lifestyle changes to provide more lasting relief.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *