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Costs of Common Prenatal Tests

Costs of Common Prenatal Tests

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Prenatal tests can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

Your health insurance usually covers tests that are recommended by a doctor. This can mean that a $268 prenatal blood test may only cost you $70, based on your plan's benefits.

For prenatal tests that are not medically necessary, you'll have to pay the entire cost yourself. This could mean paying $1,600 for a prenatal paternity test or several thousand dollars for prenatal genetic tests that are beyond what your insurance company approves.

Cost of prenatal blood test

A prenatal blood test, called an obstetric blood panel, is a routine test to check the health of the mother to identify any issues that could arise during pregnancy.

The typical cost of a prenatal blood test is $268 without insurance.

Prenatal blood tests are covered by health insurance, and how much you pay depends on your plan's level of coverage. Assuming you've already met your plan's deductible, the copayment for a prenatal blood test is typically between $20 and $78.

Insurance plan tier
Cost of prenatal blood test
Bronze$78
Silver$71
Gold$56
Platinum$20

Generally, you'll pay less each month for a lower-tier insurance plan, such as a Bronze plan, but you'll pay more for medical care.

Having a higher-tier insurance plan would only save you about $58 on the cost of a prenatal blood test. However, the large number of medical tests and appointments that occur during pregnancy means that enrolling in a higher-tier insurance plan with better benefits is usually a good deal because of your total savings across the pregnancy.

For example, a Gold or Platinum plan could have a lower deductible, lower copays and a lower out-of-pocket maximum, as compared to a Bronze plan.

An obstetric blood panel will test for several factors about the mother's health and the compatibility between the mother and the baby using a simple blood draw.

In addition to this obstetric panel, a doctor can order screenings for sexually transmitted infections, screenings for illnesses such as rubella or tuberculosis, and blood glucose testing if there is a risk of gestational diabetes. Each of these tests is billed separately. The blood screenings are often combined with a fetal ultrasound, which costs around $639 without insurance.

Prenatal genetic test

One of the earliest prenatal genetic tests you can get, a screening that checks the health of the baby through a sample of the mother's blood, is called noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT).

A prenatal genetic test typically costs $1,345 without insurance.

The NIPT genetic test is typically covered by insurance when it's considered medically necessary by a doctor and you meet the coverage criteria set by the insurance plan. You may also find that your insurance plan covers an NIPT blood test differently from other genetic tests like amniocentesis because NIPT is an early screening that checks if you are at risk of a problem, and other procedures can more specifically diagnose problems.

When it's covered by health insurance, the cost of the NIPT prenatal genetic test is usually between $207 and $334, assuming you've already met the plan's deductible.

Insurance plan tier
Cost of prenatal blood test
Bronze$334
Silver$240
Gold$207

If your insurance won't cover the test, you can ask the provider for cash pricing, which is a negotiated rate that you would pay if you don't use your insurance plan. This can bring the price down to around $340. There are also options for financial assistance if you contact the test manufacturer. For example, the Panorama-brand prenatal test can be reduced to $149 for those who qualify for a financial hardship discount.

However, any medical expenses you have for procedures that aren't covered by insurance or those you pay for in cash without using your insurance will not count toward your insurance plan's deductible or out-of-pocket maximum.

NIPT tests can identify if your baby is at risk for a chromosome disorder such as Down syndrome or potential birth defects. The genetic screening uses a sample of the mother's blood to check for different hormones and proteins. The test can be done in either the first or second trimester.

Remember that any indication of a problem will require further testing because many of these early genetic tests are unregulated by the FDA and frequently have false positive results.

Chorionic villus sampling (CVS)

The genetic test Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) uses a sample of the placenta to identify conditions such as Down syndrome or cystic fibrosis.

Chorionic villus sampling typically costs around $3,050.

The procedure is usually done in an outpatient facility or in a doctor's office. Costs can vary widely based on where you go for the procedure, ranging from $1,300 to $4,800.

Your itemized bill will include several individual charges including the physician fee, the procedure cost, any facility fees and the cost for the lab to process the sample.

Your health insurance may cover chorionic villus sampling if you have certain risk factors, such as being older or having a family history of certain genetic diseases. You may need to get prior authorization from the insurance company, and the amount you pay will depend on your insurance plan.

Chorionic villus sampling tests a small sample of placental tissue, which has the same genetic makeup as the fetus. This can be examined for chromosomal abnormalities but not for developmental issues such as spina bifida.

Amniocentesis

Amniocentesis checks a sample of amniotic fluid for specific genetic abnormalities.

Amniocentesis typically costs $4,100 without insurance.

The cost for amniocentesis can vary based on where the procedure is done, typically ranging from $1,000 and $7,200. This includes the itemized costs from the doctor's office for physician fees and procedure fees, as well as the lab costs for processing the sample.

With a typical health insurance plan, you will pay around $1,230 for amniocentesis, or 30% of the procedure cost.

Health insurance plans usually cover amniocentesis. However, insurance plans vary in both how you qualify for coverage and what your portion of the cost is.

  • Most insurers will require prior authorization. This means the insurance company will need to agree to cover the procedure before you have it done.
  • Typically, your doctor must recommend the procedure as being medically necessary before an insurance company will cover it.
  • An insurance company may only cover the test if there is an increased risk for chromosomal abnormalities, such as when the pregnant woman is over 35, has a family history of certain genetic diseases or had abnormal screening tests earlier in the pregnancy.

Even when health insurance covers amniocentesis, what you pay for the procedure can be high. If you start to feel worried about the high costs of prenatal care, remember that your health insurance plan's out-of-pocket maximum will cap your medical costs for the year. After you reach this spending limit, you won't pay anything for covered medical costs for the rest of the year.

Usually performed after 15 weeks of pregnancy, amniocentesis analyzes a sample of amniotic fluid to check for chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, or developmental problems with how the spine and brain form, a result of what are called open neural tube defects. The test also checks for specific genetic abnormalities, such as cystic fibrosis or sickle cell disease.

Gender blood test

You can find out the sex of a baby through an at-home DNA kit that uses a small sample of blood.

An at-home gender blood test costs an average of $74 for the standard package.

These at-home tests are not covered by insurance, meaning you'll pay the full price. However, the at-home test is only one option available.

At the doctor's office, the sex of a baby can be discovered during noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT), a noninvasive prenatal paternity (NIPP) test, chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or an ultrasound. These prenatal tests won't be covered if their only purpose is to determine the sex of the baby. However, if the test is being used primarily for another purpose, it may be covered by insurance, and the test results may also tell you if your baby is a boy or a girl.

Prenatal paternity test

A prenatal paternity test is a DNA test that can confirm the father, assuming you have their DNA.

A noninvasive prenatal paternity (NIPP) test typically costs about $1,600.

A prenatal paternity test is not covered by health insurance, meaning that you must pay the entire cost yourself.

The cost for a prenatal paternity test is much higher than paternity tests done after the baby is born. In that case, it typically costs less than $200. The difference in cost is because the DNA test done before the baby's birth requires that the mother's blood is drawn and processed. If the paternity test is done after birth, only cheek swabs are needed for the DNA samples.

Prenatal paternity tests are never free. However, when there are child support issues, some states may pay for a paternity test after the baby is born, or they may require that the father repays any testing costs after paternity is established.

With a prenatal paternity test, a blood sample is taken from the mother who has been pregnant for at least seven weeks. This sample will include the baby's DNA. DNA is also collected through cheek swabs of the father or potential fathers.

A prenatal paternity test can usually be done by your OB-GYN. If the test is being used for legal paternity issues, there may be additional requirements such as having a witness present when the DNA is collected or blood is drawn.

Frequently asked questions

Is prenatal genetic testing covered by insurance?

Yes, major health insurance companies, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, UnitedHealthcare and Humana, will cover genetic screening if you meet the plan's coverage criteria. This can mean that a doctor must recommend the procedure or there is a higher risk of genetic abnormalities.

How much does genetic testing cost during pregnancy?

Costs can vary based on the type of test and your insurance plan. If you have health insurance, an early genetic screening can cost $240, while amniocentesis can cost $1,230.

What's the best health insurance plan for prenatal tests and childbirth?

A higher-tier insurance plan with better medical benefits will usually save you money on the cost of childbirth and pregnancy. For example, choosing a Platinum plan versus a Bronze plan could save you more than $6,000 throughout pregnancy and delivery, after considering both the cost of a plan and the cost of medical care.

Sources and methodology

The cost of medical procedures is based on aggregated data from Turquoise and Healthcare Bluebook. The cost of at-home gender tests is based on the average of basic testing packages from three major providers. The cost for prenatal paternity testing is based on pricing by DDC DNA Diagnostics Center.

The average procedure cost with health insurance is based on in-network coverage from marketplace insurance plans offered in Arlington, Va., with averages across the 53 plans offered by Bright Health, Cigna, Kaiser Permanente, Innovation Health and UnitedHealthcare.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.