Our skin is our largest organ.
It has multiple functions, including regulating our temperature and defending against injury and disease.
Dermatologists are doctors with specialized knowledge of conditions affecting skin, hair, and nails.
Establishing a relationship with a trusted dermatologist is an important way to support the health of your skin and your overall well-being.
Specialist-provided healthcare may sound costly, but it doesn’t have to break the bank.
This article will explain the cost factors of and ways to save on dermatology visits.
When to See a Dermatologist
You don’t have to wait until something is wrong to see a dermatologist.
Just like our homes or cars, our bodies benefit from regular maintenance and check-ups.
Visit your dermatologist annually or once every two years for a full-body exam (sometimes referred to as a skin check).
If you notice something unusual
Sudden or unusual changes to your skin, hair, or nails are reasons to seek specialty care.
Certified dermatologists have extensive knowledge and over 12 years of education, making them a reliable resource for assessing your concerns and treating different conditions.
When a problem is persistent
Dermatology visits aren’t limited to sudden changes.
If you experience issues that last longer than a week or skin problems that cause distress, a dermatologist would be happy to try and help.
There are more than 3,000 diseases that a dermatologist can identify and treat for you.
Dermatologists can help with things like:
- Abnormal skin changes that are concerning for cancer
- Benign skin tags and moles that are aesthetically unpleasing
- Acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, hidradenitis, and other inflammatory or immune-mediated skin conditions
- Hair loss
- Ingrown nails and other nail changes
- Aging skin
After initial exam by a primary care physician
It isn’t always necessary to visit a dermatologist—sometimes your primary care physician (PCP) can help.
Contact dermatitis, bug bites, and shingles are a few issues you can bring to your PCP first if you aren’t experiencing emergency symptoms.
For lesions that are concerning for cancer, though, biopsy may be required, and it would be best to start with a dermatologist, as they will ensure any incision heals aesthetically and can monitor the area through time.
Cost for a Dermatologist Visit
Just like a doctor’s visit, the cost for seeing a dermatologist can vary greatly depending on the services provided during the appointment and whether you have insurance coverage or are paying out of pocket.
For those with health insurance, the average copay for a specialist visit is $40.
Those without insurance will likely pay more than that for an initial visit.
In some cases, you may be referred to a dermatologist with a specific focus in fields such as:
- Pediatric dermatology
- Dermatologic surgery
- Aesthetic dermatology
You can expect to pay more in areas with a higher cost of living.
Similarly, areas with a higher concentration of specialists are likely to provide a wider range of pricing compared to areas with few options.
Whether you visit a local dermatologist or travel to see one, consider the travel expenses as part of the overall cost.
Sometimes, even with travel costs, you can save money if the cost of out-of-town care is considerably lower than your local provider.
Depending on your situation, you may be able to consult a dermatologist via telehealth.
During this type of remote visit, the dermatologist can address your concerns and provide feedback and expert advice.
Remote care can be more affordable and convenient than traditional office visits.
Insurance coverage is the biggest factor in the final cost of a dermatology visit.
Specifically, whether you have health insurance and if the services provided are covered in your healthcare plan.
Plan pricing can vary, though, so reviewing your specific coverage details will give you the best idea for cost.
You can also contact the office you wish to visit to see if they accept your insurance and get a price estimate.
Medical coverage not only affects the cost of service, but it can also be influenced by location.
It may be worth traveling for an in-network dermatologist, because the cost of an out-of-network specialist visit can add up (taking into account the visit, procedures, pathology, and follow up).
Factors that Influence the Cost of a Dermatologist Visit
There are multiple factors that affect the cost of dermatology care:
- Health insurance coverage: Pricing varies based on whether or not you have insurance. When you’re insured, premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses factor into your bill. Out-of-network providers may cost more or simply be excluded from coverage.
- Services: Surgical procedures and testing will cost more than a screening, which you may be able to access for free.
- Specialized vs. general dermatology: Appointments with specialized dermatologists may cost more than those with a general dermatologist. The education and procedural tools of field-specific dermatology can add up to a higher bill.
- Location: Accessibility and cost of living affect the price associated with a dermatology visit. While proximity may include better coverage, costs change by location.
- Remote care: Dermatology clinics offering telemedicine can share photos you provide with the dermatologist to analyze at their convenience. This convenience plays a role in scheduling and office overhead, all factoring into the overall cost.
How to Save Money
If you are worried about the cost of dermatology visits, you can manage those costs in a few ways:
- Consider your needs: Your PCP may be able to treat less-pressing concerns. They can also recommend a dermatologist if specialty care is needed.
- Shop around and call ahead: Competitive pricing can lead you to more affordable care. Call clinics ahead of time and ask about estimated pricing for the services you need.
- Inquire about payment plans: When you contact a dermatology office for their pricing, ask about possible payment plans and discounts. Paying in batches instead of upfront can help you manage your monthly expenses.
- Prevent bigger bills: Regular check-ups can catch concerning conditions early before they progress, thus leading to fewer long-term expenses.
- Consider remote care: Telemedicine can reduce out-of-pocket costs while saving you time. A study in Portugal showed pre-surgical conventional office visits to be over two times more expensive than telehealth visits.
- Find financial assistance: There are many free and low-cost resources if you don’t have health insurance or simply don’t have the funds to cover medical expenses. A little research can go a long way to covering costs.
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Frequently Asked Questions
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Immune functions of the skin. (2011.)
Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI)--a simple practical measure for routine clinical use. (1994.)
What Is a Dermatologist? (n.d.)
Health Insurance Premiums, Deductibles, Copays and Coinsurance. (2020.)
The Ultimate List of Medical Specialties and Subspecialties. (2021.)
Find a free skin cancer screening. (n.d.)
Patients’ out-of-pocket expenses analysis of presurgical teledermatology. (2019.)