by Aidan Kang, CFA
Senior Writer
UPDATED: October 13, 2022

There are many reasons why you may want to get an EKG. You may need one for a medical condition, or you may be experiencing chest pain and want to know if it is cardiac-related. Whatever the reason, knowing about your heart health can put your mind at ease. 

In this article, we will discuss what an EKG is in a way that is accessible to everyone. We will also discuss the costs involved when wanting to get this procedure done.

Many people are often hesitant to go for such procedures because they are scared that they can't pay the bills. By knowing the EKG price, you can save yourself from overpaying when you get your EKG.

What Is an EKG?

EKG, short for electrocardiogram, is a test that can help diagnose heart problems. It is also referred to as ECG. An EKG or ECG measures how fast your heart beats and views its electrical activity.

An EKG also measures whether there is damage to the heart, how effectively it is pumping blood, and if drugs or technology being used to regulate it (eg: pacemaker) are having an effect.

A doctor can use an EKG as a tool to detect and diagnose many diseases such as myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia, etc. It can also help detect heart valve problems, electrolyte imbalances, and other health conditions.

A standard EKG typically takes around 5-10 20 minutes. If you are doing a stress test, an EKG is typically done while you are exercising on a treadmill or stationary bike.

What Is the Cost of EKG Without Insurance?

Maybe you are wondering: How much does an EKG cost in an ER? How about in an urgent care clinic or a doctor's office? Will it be very expensive?

The cost of an EKG can vary depending on how it is being conducted, where you are located, and the health care provider offering the service. If you do not have insurance, this means you have to pay the amount in full.

For instance, an EKG performed in a hospital setting can be quite expensive and can go up to several thousands of dollars. However, if you get the EKG performed at smaller medical locations like a walk-in clinic or urgent care facility, the cost is typically much lower.

Below is the price range of EKG costs without insurance to give you an idea of how different the costs can be depending on the location and medical facility:

  • Cost of EKG in New York, New York – $180 – $4,700
  • Cost of EKG in Los Angeles, California – $330 – $4,300
  • Cost of EKG in Houston, Texas – $170 – $2,400
  • Average Cost of ECG in U.S. –  $1,750
  • Average Cost of EKG in Urgent Care – $200

Cost of EKG with Insurance

If you have medical insurance, the cost of an EKG will depend on your particular insurance plan. Based on your plan, the out-of-pocket cost (deductible fee) which you will have to copay will vary.

The price range of an EKG or ECG with insurance can be from $30 to $100.

Before getting the EKG performed, make sure you inform the medical provider about your insurance plan. Take note that it may be possible that a certain facility will not accept your insurance and you could pay a higher amount. To avoid this, clarify if the facility accepts your insurance first and what the copay amount will be.

Are There Extra Costs I Have to Pay with an EKG?

How many times have you experienced getting shocked at the total amount upon receiving a hospital bill or any bill for that matter? Perhaps you were expecting to pay only a certain amount and prepared that money, only to end up having to pay for more than what you have at the moment.

With medical costs, this often happens with so many people. That's why you can't blame others for getting traumatized when it comes to going for treatment.

Does this also happen when getting an EKG? Yes, it's possible. In some cases, you may be charged more than the cost of the EKG itself. While this is usually not a big issue if you have health insurance and you only have to pay a flat amount, this could strain the budget of someone without insurance.

Here are some of the costs that may be charged or required with an EKG.

  • Reading/Analysis of the Results – $50 – $100
  • Stress Test – $100 – $500
  • Basic Metabolic Panel (Blood Test) – $20 – $150

You have to remember that the above costs can vary depending on your location and the facility you choose. If you are in a major private hospital, an EKG and a stress test can cost you thousands of dollars.

Does Medicare Pay for a Routine EKG?

If you have Medicare, the good news is that this will cover an EKG screening. The bad news is that you are only covered for one (1) EKG screening in your lifetime and it should take place during the first year you are on Medicare.

If you've passed the 12 months or you already had a previous EKG performed, then the succeeding EKG will not be covered unless it was necessary for a diagnosis. In short, you cannot just go for an EKG out of the blue, without any advice from a doctor and expect Medicare to pay for it.

How about a stress test? Will Medicare cover a stress test? Like with an EKG, Medicare will only cover a stress test if it was deemed necessary for your health condition.

Who Should Get an EKG?

There are some symptoms that you might be experiencing in which an EKG can help in diagnosing an illness or a heart problem. 

If you are experiencing any of the following, you may need to get an EKG done:

  • chest pain/discomfort 
  • palpitations or fast heartbeat     
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing                                                

How To Save Money on an EKG Without Insurance?

If you want to save money on an EKG and you are not ready to get health insurance just yet, there are options to consider.

  1. Look for smaller medical facilities like walk-in clinics and urgent care clinics. If possible, avoid going to big private hospitals because the costs will typically be much higher. While urgent care clinics are typically more pricey than walk-in clinics, most urgent care centers now offer affordable procedures like EKG that are way lower than hospital rates.
  2. Shop around by calling nearby clinics and ask about their EKG rates. Make sure to ask whether there are additional costs involved during your visit.
  3. Ask the facility whether you can get a discount if you pay cash or credit card upfront.
  4. If you cannot afford the price of an EKG, look for free clinics in your area that provide free medical services. You can also ask nearby hospitals if they have a financial assistance program for low-income individuals and if you qualify for this program.
  5. Every February, American Heart Month is celebrated in the United States. Many hospitals, health care providers, and charities offer free heart screenings including EKGs to the public during this month. This can be a great opportunity for you to get an EKG at no cost.

Get an EKG and Check Your Heart Health

People can really benefit from getting an EKG. It is a very effective way to make sure your heart is healthy and it is one of the most cost-effective tests you can have done. We hope that these tips can help you save money on an EKG.