Home > 2013 > Personal Finance

$15 or $800: How Much Does Botox Cost?

Advertiser Disclosure Comments 0 Comments

How much does a Botox treatment cost? Is it $15 or $800, which are both prices that we found in a price survey of the New York area?

The answer: both are right.

You probably have one of two reactions:

  1. Why should I care?
  2. How can both be true?

The price survey is part of an effort to seek transparency in the health care marketplace: In other words, you should know what stuff costs.

If you’re not interested in Botox, then the price may not seem important to you.

But stick with us for a second: It IS important as a test case and as an example of vagaries of the health care marketplace.

We’ve found it’s pretty easy to get an answer to the question of what Botox and other discretionary or cosmetic procedures costs — as opposed to things like an MRI or a colonoscopy.

This is because the discretionary procedures tend to be out of pocket, and providers are used to answering the question: how much does it cost? An MRI, on the other hand, might have several prices: A sticker price, a negotiated or reimbursed rate (what the insurance company pays), the rate that Medicare and Medicaid pay for treatments for people who are older and those who have low income, an out-of-network price, and so on. We know about this because we’ve done pricing surveys for about 35 common procedures in seven U.S. metro areas, collecting cash or self-pay prices for both medically necessary procedures (an MRI, a colonoscopy) and discretionary procedures (Botox, Lasik).

Breaking Down the Cost of Botox

OK, so back to the question. Does Botox cost $15 or $800?

First, the basics. Botox is a brand name for the Botulinum toxin Type A, which is used to relax facial muscles, thus reducing lines and wrinkles in cosmetic uses. It can also be used to ease migraines, excessive sweating and a few other conditions.

When Botox is injected, it is priced two different ways:

  1. By the vial or unit ($12 per unit, $15 per vial)
  2. By the area, such as the area between the eyes, where frown lines are often treated with Botox ($450 — $800 for an area)

The decision to use a given number of units or vials, or to treat an entire area, depends on the discretion of the provider. Some places have a required minimum purchase (minimum 50 units, for example) so the two pricing practices are hard to compare.

The average price nationwide for a Botox treatment is $328, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. That’s for Botox and Dysport, both brand names for Botulinum Toxin type A. (There are other injectable cosmetic surgery treatments, too – we didn’t price those.)

The website realself.com is another resource where cosmetic surgery patients contribute their information about their procedures. Botox patients claim prices of $1 to $11,111; we are inclined to believe the $400 to $800 range in the New York area is the most common.

Finding Out the Cost of Any Procedure

If you’re trying to plan a procedure – Botox, an MRI or anything else — asking the price in advance often results in some equivocation: “it depends on the patient,” or “$15 per vial, and we won’t know how many until we examine you.”

Other things to know about Botox treatments: Some providers charge a consultation fee, which is waived if you choose to proceed with the injections but charged if you decline. Also, who is doing the injection? Make sure it’s a trained, certified professional. As in many other things, training and credentials are important. In some practices, a junior employee may perform the procedure for a lesser rate. Make sure that’s what you want.

Not a Botox patient? Listen anyway. This is good practice for asking the price for other medical procedures like an MRI or a colonoscopy, where the information can be much harder to get. The common replies you could get: “What’s your insurance?” “We can’t tell you because it depends on your deductible.” “We don’t know.” “You’ll have to call billing.”

Your best response: “Is there a consultation fee” or “Are any other fees necessary?” or “Is that the total charge?” Because in a funny way, an MRI isn’t so different from Botox: You should be able to know what things cost. (The state of Massachusetts, by the way, has passed a law saying that you should be able to know these things.)

Here’s a list of cash or self-pay prices for an MRI in Texas: From $325 to $2,432.  And with the most expensive one, a “reading fee,” we were told, was not included.

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team