This article was updated on March 23, 2021.
If your doctor thinks you may need to undergo the echocardiogram procedure, you may have some questions. Is it expensive? Is it invasive? How does it differ from other heart tests? Echocardiography can sound overwhelming, but your Medicare coverage may be able to help.
What is an echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram (or echo) is a test that uses sound waves to take pictures of the heart in order to check for abnormalities, holes, blood clots, and more. A medical technician passes a probe across your chest which picks up sounds waves from your heart, much like an ultrasound. The process is a simple outpatient procedure, often performed in your doctor’s office instead of a hospital.
The echocardiogram results will show your doctor if you have any leakages, blood clots, fluid, or complications with the aorta in your heart.
As long as an echocardiogram is ordered by a doctor who accepts Medicare assignment and deemed medically necessary, Medicare Part B will cover it. Medicare Part B will also cover an echocardiogram as part of your one-time Welcome to Medicare doctor visit.
Types of echocardiograms
Echocardiograms have a variety of different testing options. The following are common options that your doctor may use:
An average echocardiogram costs between $1,000 and $2,000. Medicare Part B will cover 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount of this diagnostic test. The Part B deductible applies. You may also owe a copayment to the hospital, clinic, or doctor’s office where the test is performed.
When do you need an echocardiogram?
A doctor might order an echocardiogram to:
- Diagnose reasons for shortness of breath or chest pain
- Check for problems in the outer lining or large blood vessels of the heart
- Detect blood clots or holes
- See if your heart has been damaged by a heart attack
- Check whether you have valve disease or a heart murmur
If you are experiencing unusual fatigue, shortness of breath, fever, chest pain, dizziness, swelling, or a racing heart, it could be a heart problem. Contact your doctor to schedule an echocardiogram.
For more information on what Medicare covers for echocardiograms, call Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users call 1-877-486-2048.