I think your friend's best bet may be to get health insurance, then go through the testing. That way, if it turns out he has MS, he is insured at diagnosis.
Whatever is going on for your friend, diagnosis probably won't be the end of the stream of doctors. The best way to manage costs is to get insurance.
The lab costs for my LP+Blood were $1,153.74. This was just the lab. There were other costs for the procedure itself, but I can;t find them.
Costs appear to vary widely from state to state, country to country. I live in Canada and have no clue what these tests cost. ( I've always thought this information should be available to Canadians so that people don't take universal health care for granted, because obviously it isn't 'free.'). I do know that generally, neurologists earn more, and charge more, in the U.S. than they do in Canada.
I have seen a Boston neuro for a 2nd opinion - the consult was a few hundred $$$ and the MRI that was offered was several thousand.
Some facilities apply a discount for uninsured patients who are paying cash.
Bear in mind that LP and blood tests are not necessarily 'confirmatory.' Blood tests are done to rule out other diseases; there is no blood test that confirms MS. A negative LP does not rule out MS. MRI is the best and most expensive diagnostic test when evaluating for MS.
I agree with Jane, now is the time to get insurance. Your friend should ensure the insurer won't disqualify them due to evidence there was a pre-existing condition before insuance was purchased. This is a typical clause in certain types of travellers' health insurance.
In the meantime, to understand costs, contact the business office of the hospital where your friend would be seen. That is the only way to get reliable information.
As I read the original post, i get the feeling you want to go for testing when coming to the states. It isn't, usually, a diagnosis that can be obtained by just showing up for tons of testing. It can take years and years to find the answer. Many diseases that mimic MS all have to be ruled out first. Many of us wish it had been that easy! If you or your friend are coming to "stay", it may take awhile.
i agree with the others, get insurance first, as it can get very expensive. An MRI alone is over $1,000. I had an ultrasound done to r/o cardiac problems and my share was over $800. Then, because you want insurance first, our medications are VERY expensive and some run in the thousands per month.
Not trying to discourage you but you've gotten some good advice above, just don't expect to walk in and out of testing with a diagnosis! It could happen I suppose but those are unusual events.
If your friend does do this testing without insurance, be sure to talk to the provider first and ask if there is a discounted price they can offer. Insurance companies all pay significantly less than what is billed and sometimes they will offer those prices to uninsured patients. It is worth asking.
I've been looking into doing this too. I'm from Ohio, but living in Italy and trying to sort out what's going on with my health from here has been a little bit of a mess.
UofChicago's med center (and many teaching hospitals) has an international patient department for people coming in from overseas. You can contact them beforehand for prices and they will assign you someone to schedule everything together ahead of time and get you the pricing info. If you aren't able to get insurance beforehand, this might be another way to go.
Johns Hopkins has something similar and will also do a consultation and give a long distance second opinion if you have tests already done to send them.
Another option could be to have the tests done overseas where it's cheaper and take them to be read in the US if there are testing centers nearby that you trust to properly do the test, that is.