How much does ACL surgery cost?
The average total cost of ACL surgery is $9,276. Get a cost estimate based on your location, insurance, and doctor below.
If you’ve injured your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)—playing sports or overextending your knee joint—you may need ACL surgery, either known as ACL reconstruction or repair. One of the first things you might want to know (after how much it may hurt, or when you’ll be able to walk again) is how much ACL surgery costs.
Amino found that the median network rate for ACL surgery is $9,276. Keep in mind—this is an estimate for what you and your health insurance company might pay together (combined) for the procedure, not the amount you’ll pay out-of-pocket.
You can use Amino to find an experienced surgeon and estimate your out-of-pocket cost below. Then, read on to learn more about what ACL surgery is and what affects the overall cost.
Find a doctor and calculate what you'll pay
Use Amino (below) to find an orthopedic surgeon with experience doing ACL surgery. After entering your information, select a doctor and click “calculate what you’ll pay” to see a cost estimate customized to your insurance.
What is ACL surgery?
The ACL is one of four ligaments that help stabilize the knee. It’s also one of the most commonly injured ligaments (about 200,000 injuries and 100,000 reconstructive surgeries annually). ACL surgeries are performed by orthopedic surgeons and involve 2 options: reconstruction and repair.
For the purposes of this post, we’re referring to ACL reconstruction surgery, the most popular type of ACL surgery. This involves using a graft to replace the injured ligament. Usually, surgeons will use a graft from your own body (an autograft), like the tendon of your kneecap or hamstring. Alternatively, the tendon of a deceased donor (an allograft) can be used.
(The second type of ACL surgery is repair, which is done when you have an avulsion fracture, meaning your ACL and a piece of your bone have separated from the rest of your bone. In an ACL repair surgery, the separated bone is reattached.)
Are there alternatives to ACL surgery?
Even if you damage your ACL, you might not need surgery. For some people, an alternative treatment like physical therapy would be successful. Here are the types of people who might be a good candidate for non-surgical treatment:
- Children whose growth plates are still open
- Those who live sedentary lifestyles
- People with partial tears and no signs of instability
- Those who are willing to stop playing high-impact sports
If you don’t fall into one of those categories, ACL surgery is probably your best bet, especially if you:
- Want to continue playing high-demand sports
- Experience episodes of knee instability
- Don’t want to try a more conservative physical therapy
How much does ACL surgery cost, and what determines the price of ACL surgery?
Amino found that the median network rate for ACL surgery is $9,276. The range across the US we found was $3,510 to $20,162—that is a huge difference.
These are the factors that go into how much an ACL surgery costs:
Where you live often affects how much your surgery costs, especially since it determines which hospitals and doctors are available to you. For example, if you live in an urban area, you may have more options to choose from.
The network rate, which is what our estimates are based on, is negotiated between your health insurance company and doctor or hospital—so your insurance company and whatever provider you choose will play a large role in determining cost. Our cost estimates show that $6,852 of the $9,276 for ACL surgery—so 74% of the cost—comes from the facility charges. (On average, the procedure itself only costs $1,560.)
Your health insurance plan affects the cost of your surgery for a few reasons. Whether your surgeon is in or out-of-network can impact the overall cost of an ACL surgery. Your co-insurance and co-pay amounts, as well as how much of your deductible you have left, can make a difference in how much you pay out-of-pocket.
What happens during the procedure, such as what kind of anesthesia you get (and whether your anesthesiologist is in or out-of-network), can change the cost. If there are emergencies that happen during the surgery, you might have unexpected costs associated with the surgery.
Your personal health also plays a role in how much your surgery costs. If you go into surgery with health problems other than an injured ACL, there could be additional expenses.
Now that you know how much your ACL surgery could cost, let’s explore insurance coverage and how to get the most care for your money.
The cost of ACL surgery in the US
Using Amino’s health insurance claims database, we found where the largest metro areas (the ones with more than 1 million residents) stand when it comes to ACL surgery.
The 10 least expensive metro areas for ACL surgery
- Memphis, TN-MS-AR — $3,510
- Oklahoma City, OK — $4,965
- Birmingham-Hoover, AL — $5,118
- Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX — $5,193
- Austin-Round Rock, TX — $5,573
- Providence-Warwick, RI-MA — $5,867
- Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL — $6,313
- Rochester, NY — $6,407
- Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN — $6,559
- Tampa-St.Petersburg-Clearwater, FL — $6,750
The 10 most expensive metro areas for ACL surgery
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA — $20,162
- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA — $18,577
- San Diego-Carlsbad, CA — $18,271
- Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI — $18,240
- Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA — $17,888
- Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI — $15,095
- Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA — $13,750
- Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN — $13,201
- Minneapolis-St.Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI — $13,157
- Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA — $12,535
Will health insurance cover ACL surgery?
Luckily, the majority of health insurance plans cover ACL surgery—even Medicare and Medicaid. That being said, your insurance will likely require documentation from your doctor establishing that the surgery is medically necessary. To make the process run smoothly (because dealing with a torn ACL is painful enough without the hassle of unexpected medical bills), call your insurance provider and find out:
- What types of ACL surgery are covered
- If you need preauthorization before treatment begins
- What documentation your doctor needs to provide
Many insurance companies will cover:
- An evaluation by an orthopedic surgeon
- Pre-surgery appointments
- The surgery (including fees, anesthesia, graft, and operating room)
- Post-surgery physical therapy appointments
All insurance providers have different policies so make sure you call and ask before you schedule your surgery.
How to get the most for your money
Even if your insurance does cover some or most of your ACL surgery, it’s likely that you’re going to be paying some of the cost out-of-pocket. To make sure you’re getting the most (and best) care for your money:
- Ask your insurance company about your costs like co-insurance, copays, and deductibles.
- Utilize your Health Savings Account (HSA), your Flexible Spending Account (FSA), and your Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) to cover out-of-pocket expenses.
- Do your research and compare prices at different hospitals. Look into outpatient or ambulatory surgery centers—they often have more affordable surgery options.
- Have a conversation with your doctor. This is especially important if you don’t have insurance and are paying for your ACL surgery yourself. Some doctors will offer a discount or an interest-free payment plan if they know that you’re shouldering the cost on your own.
Ultimately, the cost of your ACL surgery is determined by many factors. You can use Amino’s cost estimates for ACL surgery as a guide to help you understand how much the surgery could cost in your area, what goes into the total cost, and how much you might be responsible out-of-pocket—but you should always check with your doctor and insurance company. You can also use Amino to find doctors in your city with the most experience in ACL surgery.