MRI price in the US
According to articles published in Forbes, MRI might get even more expensive because of the new plans by the US Congress to introduce medical device tax. Currently, MRI cost varies based on facility & location. If you belong to more than 40% of US adults and have high-deductible insurance, you can expect to pay anywhere between $700 – $6,000 for a single MRI, while cash patients can pay as little as $250-400.
The research published by Neurology shows that the US has one of the highest medical costs for an MRI, which is about 2x the average of other developed markets such as France or Germany. Patients across the US are paying exorbitant prices MRIs, CTs, Ultrasounds & PET/ CTs, which led many patients to face personal bankruptcies – fortunately, there is a way out.
Stand-alone outpatient facilities – the affordable option for MRIs, CTs & Ultrasound
In general, the best equipped and most expensive facilities are at the national hospitals and research hospitals such as Stanford. Such facilities tend to charge high-deductible patients $2,500-$6,000 per single MRI scan. Another & better option is seeking outpatient facilities that have more reasonable pricing and would charge you about $800-$2,000 per scan. There are now local initiatives looking to curb such exorbitant pricing.
High-deductible & uninsured patients tips
Pay in cash and save thousands on MRI fees
The good news is that you can always negotiate a better rate if you pay in cash. The imaging center saves on billing costs and removes the hassle of dealing with insurance companies, so they can provide you with large discounts. You can pay as little as $250 for an MRI scan without contrast, which is 90% saving vs. the listing price.
Insured patients tips
Don’t get stuck in in-network/network insurance loopholes
Even if you receive full coverage from your insurance company you will get a large bill. Usually, your doctor will recommend you to an in-network facility, which your insurance covers. But, you need to be very careful who is the radiologist – is he also in-network? If not, you will be charged the full list price of the MRI reading which can go up to thousands of dollars if he is out-of-network. David Belk from Truecostofhealthcare.com covers many of these horror stories.
Insurance is denying my MRI – what to do?
The good news is that you can still do the MRI for even a cheaper price than would be your co-pay if your insurance would cover the MRI price. You can go the cash route and instead of waiting 3-4 weeks for your insurance approved the appointment, you can get the next day MRI appointment through one of the Affordable Scan facilities.
Cash MRI prices & fees by type of procedure in Los Angeles, California:
MRIs prices vary by complexity of the scan & the reading and if the scan requires doctor contrast. Here are the cash prices at outpatient clinics:
- MRI scan without contrast: $249-900
- MRI scan with contrast: $350-$1300
- MRI scan with & without contrast: $400-$2000
- MRI scan of the breast (check on breast implant) – $475 – $900
- MRI scan of the breast to check for cancer: $600-$2000
- MRA of heart: $700-$3,000
MRI prices by location:
- Los Angeles MRI cash price: $250-500 – One of the most competitive markets in the country with the best prices in the country. Cash MRI range between $250-$500.
- San Diego MRI cash price: $350-700 – Much more expensive than LA, you are better off driving to Irvine or Orange country for the best deal on your cash MRI.
- Bay Area MRI cash price: $400 – $800 – Very expensive, Stanford & Sutter health have consolidated a lot of imaging facilities which led to a decrease in competition. If you want a better deal you might want to visit the Castro Valley, San Jose or Oakland.
- Central Valley: $350-700 – Generally more expensive area, depends on your location. If you are in Southern California, you might be better off driving to LA
Check out Santa Ana, Garden Grove and Anaheim for the best rates in LA.
Tips for getting the best price for an MRI, CT or a PET/CT scan
- Shop around for the best price (see the facilities in your area)
- Don’t hesitate to ask for discounts
- Ask about all the fees. Do they include the cost of MRI, cost of the radiologist reading?
- Take your doctor referral with you to another facility – your referral might be issued to one of the most expensive hospitals in the country
- Check the recommendation of best machine type required for your scan – if you need an MRI for a knee or a shoulder, you don’t need the “Ferrari” of MRIs that will cost you thousands of dollars, a simple “Toyota” like MRI for $250 will completely suffice