Here Is How Much It Costs To Die In America

The cost of a funeral can vary by more than 200 percent in the same region due to lack of market competition.

Kicking the bucket will hurt your pocket. — Bloomberg via Getty Images
Oct 21, 2015 at 8:05 AM ET

Dying in one of these American cities will cost you anything from a few hundred bucks to the price of a wedding.

A survey of 150 funeral homes in 10 cities reveals prices for the same funeral services within the same area almost always varied by at least 100 percent and often by more than 200 percent.

The huge price gaps are due to something very simple (and very American): A “lack of effective competition,” noted Stephen Brobeck, CFA’s Executive Director, in the report.  “The lack of price competition is unfortunate given the relatively high cost of funeral services and the reluctance of many bereaved consumers to comparison shop for these services,” he added.

The biggest price gaps exist in Washington, D.C., where a full service funeral, which includes embalming, viewing and a graveside ceremony, will cost your loved ones anything from $3,770 to $13,800. Even cheaper services in the nation’s capital vary massively: Cremation could cost anywhere from $1,295 to $7,595 and immediate burial from $1,410 to $6,800.

Even Seattle, Washington, one of the cheapest cities of the 10 surveyed in which to die, had a price gap of around $3,000 regardless of the service. Other cities, such as Denver, Colorado and Tucson, Arizona, had smaller price gaps for immediate burials and cremations, but there were wider gaps for those choosing full service funerals.

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The survey by the Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA) and Consumer Federation of America (CFA) found many funeral homes continue to take advantage of outdated price disclosure law. Since the Federal Trade Commissioner’s Funeral Rule was amended in 1994, it requires homes to provide price information over the phone or in person, but not on the homes’ websites.

Many funeral homes surveyed refused to disclose their prices entirely. Only a quarter of the 150 homes fully disclosed prices on their websites, while 16 percent failed to fully disclose prices both on their website and in response to an email and a phone call.