Hopefully you never have to get a brain or spine MRI. However if your doctor recommends one, you should know that you can save hundreds by choosing a for-profit MRI center.
I didn’t even know about low-cost MRI options until recently. Like many Americans, I would have gone to the radiology lab referred by my doctor, or at least one that is in-network with my insurance company.
That reasoning made sense in the good old days, when your insurance company co-pay would likely be the best deal. If someone has pricing amounts from 10 or so years ago, let me know!
Nowadays, many people pay through the nose even if they have employer-sponsored health insurance, especially those with high deductible plans (HDP). As the name indicates, HDP insurance plans have low premiums but high deductibles (a specified amount of money that the insured must pay before an insurance company will pay a claim). It is intended to incentivize people to compare prices for healthcare services.
One of my favorite cousins has a high deductible plan with a 30% co-insurance for most services, including MRIs. While she is young and in fairly good health, last year she experienced mysterious dizzy spells. Her doctor recommended a MRI.
My cousin called several in-network radiology labs for pricing. No one could or would give her an exact price. The cost would depend on a variety of factors: 1) Negotiated price they billed to the insurance company, which varied widely; 2) the individual’s co-insurance, co-pay and deductible; 3) medical code used; and 4) the biller’s mood that day. (#4 is kind of a joke).
When she went for a second opinion, her new doctor requested another MRI. I forget the reasoning for a 2nd scan but almost a year had passed since her first MRI.
At that point, my cousin had already paid $520 out of pocket for the first MRI and could not afford another costly scan. After some research, she found several for-profit MRI center with good online reviews that charged $200 – $250 for the same scan — basically a 50% saving!
My cousin reported that the facilities and personnel were very good. Her doctor had no issue with the MRI, which means that the quality was good.
A quick Google search for ‘low cost MRI’ pulled up a half dozen results, including Radiology Assist, Nationwide MRI and Affordable MRI. I can’t vouch for any of these so be sure to do your own research.
I wonder if other lab services, such as mammograms or biopsies, have for-profit options that cost less than insurance. As shown by my cousin’s experience, it never hurts to look for alternatives!