How Much Does Surgery Cost Without Insurance in 2021?

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Depending on the surgery, the out-of-pocket cost can range between $4,000 to $170,000. The most expensive surgery is heart valve replacement surgery. LASIK eye surgery and other elective procedures may cost less. Factors like where you get the surgery done, the type of surgery you’re getting, and pre or post-surgery care will impact the cost.

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The Cost of Surgery Without Insurance

Paying for surgery out of pocket can vary greatly, costing you between $4,000 and $170,000, depending on what surgery you get. LASIK eye surgery may cost you about $4,000 because the surgery is less intensive, takes less time to perform, and can be an outpatient procedure, which is less expensive when compared to inpatient procedures.

However, more extensive surgeries such as a heart valve replacement or heart bypass are more expensive for the following reasons:

  • Pre and post-operative hospital stay. Before and after receiving surgery, you will likely have to stay in the hospital. This is to make sure you are prepared for the surgery and are recovering well after. The average hospital stay is 6-7 days for bypass surgery.
  • Pre-surgical treatment. Pre-surgical treatment is done to increase the success of the surgery; this may include catheterization and other treatments necessary to ensure that bypass surgery is successful.
  • Anti-rejection medication. Anti-rejection medicine is necessary to prevent your body from rejecting any new organs, arteries, or valves after surgery. It may be prescribed for transplant surgeries as well.

The Average Cost for Surgery

Below we outline the out-of-pocket cost for surgeries. The most expensive surgeries are heart valve replacements, heart bypass, and spinal fusion surgeries.

Sources: CBS, Statista

Factors That Influence the Cost of Surgery

As you can see from the data above, the cost of surgery ranges significantly. Some factors that may influence the price include the following:

Where your surgery is done (facility and location)

Whether you get your surgery done at an inpatient or outpatient facility will affect the cost you pay. Additionally, your location will also play a role in the price.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Care

Inpatient care, such as hospitals, is primarily used in cases of complex surgeries and some routine ones, serious illnesses, or medical issues that require substantial monitoring. Outpatient care, such as a doctor’s office, is used for X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and other types of imaging, lab tests, mammograms, and minor procedures.

A study shows that outpatient procedures are significantly less expensive when compared to inpatient procedures. Outpatient procedures averaged $3,800 per patient, while the inpatient facility charge was 350% more expensive at $13,200 per patient (this was about $9,500 in savings). There was no difference between the inpatient and outpatient groups in terms of complications or readmissions.


The cost will also be dependent on your general location, such as state and city. Across different metro areas, there can be up to a 25-fold variation in prices of the same surgery or procedure:

  • The median price for C-sections in San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($20,721) was nearly 4.5 times that in Knoxville, TN ($4,556).
  • A standard blood test in Beaumont, TX ($443) costs nearly 25 times more than the same test in Toledo, OH ($18).
  • Established patient office visits had median prices three times larger in Anchorage, AK ($165) than in Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL ($60).

Pre or Post Surgery Care

Before and after you receive surgery, you will likely have to stay in the hospital. Before surgery, your surgeon may order tests to make sure you are healthy enough to tolerate the stresses of surgery. The tests can range from blood tests and chest x-rays to stress tests, imaging tests (CT, MRI, Ultrasound, PET scans), and any additional tests that the surgeon finds necessary. These tests can range from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars each and can add substantially to the overall cost of surgery. Any additional visits with your surgeon, both before and after surgery, may result in additional charges.

The day of your surgery may also result in additional fees for pre-operative procedures (such as inserting an IV) and standard blood work. You may also need to spend a certain number of nights in the hospital before being discharged. Any medications prescribed to you during this time will also result in additional charges.

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