Compare MRI Cost

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What is an MRI?

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging which is a technology that uses magnetic signals to show the different tissues inside the body allowing a digital image of inside the human body to be created. MRI's are primarily used to study nerves, muscles, ligaments, bones, and numerous other tissues in the body, primarily soft tissues. There are approximately 26,000,000 MRI procedures performed each year making this one of the more common imaging technologies used to view inside the body.

Don’t Wait! Price Health Insurance Prior to Getting your MRI.

Often your insurance premiums can be affected by procedure and diagnostic history. Price health insurance prior to getting your procedure and save.

What does an average MRI cost?

MRI cost can range between $400 to $3,500 depending upon which MRI procedure is performed (example: brain MRI vs. shoulder MRI) and where you have the MRI test performed. The same exact MRI test can vary by hundreds of dollars from testing facility to testing facility. That's why it is important that you shop around to make sure you're getting the best possible price. By spending a little time and shopping around your local hospitals and imaging centers you can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. MRI costs are broken down into two areas:

Technical Fees: this is the cost of the procedure and where there is a potential to save a considerable amount of money.

Professional Fees: this is the fee associated with having the radiologist interpret the test result.

Why do MRIs cost so much?

MRI's are expensive because of the price of the equipment. With the average MRI machine costing over $1 million dollars they have to charge enough per test to cover the expense of the machine. Now, that doesn't mean you can get a better price that what is published. Similar to the price of a new automobile, everyone knows that the "sticker price" is just an asking price. There's a nice mark-up included in that price and often if you ask the dealer to come off that price they will. MRI procedures are often no different. Most hospitals and imaging centers have a "sticker price" which are often on the high end. If you ask and work with most facilities they will often offer a substantial discount to individuals and insurance carriers due to the form of payment and the volume of procedures they pay for on an annual basis.

MRI Costs Averages

As noted above, MRI costs can vary by hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars so it's important that you shop around to get the best price. For example, listed below are some real examples or MRI procedure prices from around the United States.

Testing Facility Location Test Type Average Cost
Orlando, FL MRI $2,229
Dallas, TX - MRI Testing Facility A MRI $3,624
Dallas, TX - MRI Testing Facility B MRI $2,172
San Diego, CA MRI $2,826
Salt Lake City, UT MRI $1,694
Detroit, MI MRI $3,461
New York, NY - MRI Testing Facility A MRI $1,785
New York, NY - MRI Testing Facility B MRI $2,199
Raleigh, NC MRI $3,001
Omaha, NE MRI $2,502

Take Dallas, TX for example. Facility A charges $3,624 for a MRI while Facility B charges $2,172 That's a $1,452 difference! There's nothing different about the procedure being done but there sure is a difference between he cost of Facility A and Facility B. Take the testing facilities in New York, NY. It's very similar to the two MRI facilities in Dallas. Facility A cost for an MRI is only $1,785 while Facility B's cost is $2,199. A difference of $414. It's like this in every city around the US. Imagine how much money you could save if you called a few more facilities and asked them what they charge for an MRI. It's up to you to make sure you get the best price. Start calling around today and save money on your MRI procedure.

Don’t Wait! Price Health Insurance Prior to Getting your MRI.

Often your insurance premiums can be affected by procedure and diagnostic history. Price health insurance prior to getting your procedure and save.

Typical Cancellation Policies

Most hospitals and imaging centers do not charge for appointments which are cancelled within 24 hours of the scheduled appointment or procedure. If you do cancel the procedure within 24 hours most facilities will charge you a cancellation fee of $100 to $750. These cost/fees are associated with lost income opportunity of having the MRI machine in use during the scheduled appointment. If the machine is not being used for a procedure then it is just costing the imaging facility or hospital money. Therefore make sure that you do not cancel within 24 hours of appointment or just no-show because you will most likely be charged a cancellation fee which is not reimbursable by your insurance company.

What are common payment methods?

In addition to accepting typical medical insurance reimbursement, most all hospitals and imaging centers accept the following payment methods; cash, check, MasterCard, Visa, Discover, and American Express credit cards. Most all testing facilities require any out-of-pocket deductible or co-payment be paid upon office visit. For uninsured customers, most testing facilities offer 15% - 40% discount when the full discounted amount is paid by cash or credit within 60 days of the procedure.

Costs Reimbursement - Insured Customers

Most insurance companies, including Medicare, will reimburse the cost of getting an MRI. In most situations when an MRI is requested by a medical professional the procedure is automatically determined to be reimbursable dependent upon your particular insurance plan. It's important that you are familiar with your insurance prior to having any procedure, especially expensive procedures, performed to know if there are any special notifications or authorizations that need to be secured to ensure reimbursement. Make sure you notify the imaging doctor or technician of your concerns or pre-certification prior to any elective tests or procedures. If pre-certification is required by our insurance carrier and you do not get such pre-certification this may result in full denial of your insurance claim. Medicare and other insurance coverage policies are always changing so it is important that you contact Medicare ( or your insurance company to determine coverage prior to having any procedure performed.

Costs Reimbursement - Uninsured Customers

If you do not have insurance you may qualify for a 15% - 40% discount if the discounted balance of the procedure cost is paid in full within 60 days of the procedure. Most facilities accept cash, cashiers checks, and Visa, MasterCard, and American Express credit cards. Depending on your financial status and specific situation, a greater discount or charity may apply. In addition there may be other alternatives to working with the imaging centers for payment and/or procedure cost reimbursement.

Costs Reimbursement - Other Alternatives & Options

If your financial situation presents a challenge for making full payment for a MRI procedure make sure you ask for assistance. Be honest and up front about your situation and work with the hospital or imaging center to determine the various alternatives to reducing the cost of the MRI or spreading out the cost to make it easier to manage with your current cash flow. Some possible payment options include:

Payment Plans: Hospitals and imaging centers often do not accept payment plans, but exceptions are often made in extreme financial hardship cases. So if the cost of a MRI puts you in a financially vulnerable position do not hesitate to ask for some type of payment plan.

Charity Care Qualifications: If your family income and assets are within 200% of Federal Poverty Guidelines, financial assistance may be provided. Imaging centers and hospitals often consider these on a case-by-case basis. If you meet the initial screening criteria the facility may need to review your federal income tax returns, current pay stubs, and/or denial of third party benefits.

Employees Group Benefit Program: If you are a participating employee in a Group Benefit Program at work, you and your employer can arrange to have the cost of your MRI paid for under the program by your employer's group insurance carrier on an "extra-contractual" basis. The terms vary from plan to plan, but group benefit programs invariably provide for such "extra-contractual" arrangements. The expense is tax-deductible to the employer so make sure you speak with your employer before you pay for your CAT scan.

Tax Credits : If you do end up having to pay for the cost of a MRI you may be eligible for a medical tax credit. Make sure you keep your paperwork and receipt and speak with an accountant. This may be very helpful for people who are retired and may save you hundreds of dollars in taxes.

MRI Costs Rules of Thumb

  1. Shop around for the best possible MRI procedure rate. There are usually a number of hospitals and imaging centers in each city and each has a different price. Call them all and get their MRI pricing. Then you are in control and can pick the cheapest price.
  2. Freestanding imaging centers often are more open to negotiating MRI prices than hospitals.
  3. If you're uninsured or participate in a Health Savings Account make sure that you ask for the best possible MRI price. A facilities “best price” is often much less than a facility's published "price."

Don’t Wait! Price Health Insurance Prior to Getting your MRI.

Often your insurance premiums can be affected by procedure and diagnostic history. Price health insurance prior to getting your procedure and save.

How does an MRI work?

MRI's use magnetism and radio waves to visualize what is inside the body. MRI's usually consist of two to six imaging sequences, each lasting from two to fifteen minutes depending upon the area of interest. Each sequence can produce an image of the area of interest in several planes or image slices or cross sections. MRI's are able to detect certain diseases much earlier than other medical imaging technologies, therefore often lowering diagnostic work-up and later late stage surgeries and procedures. This often saves money by preventing unnecessary invasive diagnostic and surgical procedures in patients where the procedures performed do very little to help diagnose the condition. This often makes the MRI the diagnostic tool of choice for many medical professionals and insurance companies.

How is an MRI different than an x-ray?

Although both MRI's and X-ray's allow doctors to visualize what's inside the body, they achieve this in very different ways. An MRI uses magnetism and radio waves to produce images of inside the body while x-ray's use minor amounts of radiation.

The information contained on this page is for information purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult your physician on any medical conditions, diagnostic testing, or any general medical issue.