Medical imaging is a term that is used to refer to several different imaging technologies that radiologist use to view the human body in order to diagnose, monitor, or treat medical conditions. Each type of medical imaging technology such as MRI scan, CT scan, Ultrasound scan, Mammogram scan or X-ray gives different information about the body part being studied studied, related to possible disease, injury, or the effectiveness of medical treatment.
Modality is the term used in radiology to refer to one form of imaging e.g. CT scanning. It is often used in the plural form, e.g. various modalities can be employed to evaluate this liver lesion.
More generally, in clinical medicine, the term modality is used for different types of procedures and therapies, e.g. modalities of treatment for cancer include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery.
Imaging scan costs vary by facility & location. For 40% of high-deductible patients insurance no longer covers imaging modalities such as MRI scan cost until they reach their $6,000 to $18,000 deductible. Patients are expected to pay out of pocket between $700 – $6,000 for a single MRI. It’s essential that you do your research first before going to the closest facility you were directed by your doctor.
Find out the average prices for most frequent imaging procedures:
|CPT Code||MRI procedure||Price||Direct Pay Price||Average (Estimated) Total|
|70552||MRI Brain w/ Contrast||$847||$1,100||$1,692|
|70553||MRI Brain w/o & w/ Contrast||$1,027||$1,335||$2,054|
|70551||MRI Brain w/o Contrast||$664||$863||$1,328|
|72149||MRI Lumbar Spine w/ Contrast||$846||$1,100||$1,692|
|72158||MRI Lumbar Spine w/o & w/ Contrast||$1,033||$1,342||$2,065|
|72148||MRI Lumbar Spine w/o Contrast||$664||$863||$1,328|
|72142||MRI Spine Cervical w/ Contrast||$1,960||$2,547||$3,919|
|72156||MRI Spine Cervical w/o & w Contrast||$1,033||$1,342||$2,065|
|72141||MRI Spine Cervical w/o Contrast||$664||$863||$1,328|
|74182||MRI Abd w/ Contrast||$846||$1,100||$1,692|
|74183||MRI Abd w/o & w/ Contrast||$1,033||$1,342||$2,065|
|74181||MRI Abd w/o Contrast||$664||$863||$1,328|
The pricing is generally tied to supply & demand market economics. The more outpatient facilities are there in the market, the higher is the competition. And as a result, the imaging centers are more willing to compete on price for MRI scan to win patients. Generally, large cities with a lot of competing hospitals and outpatient clinics tend to be more affordable.
We tend to see the best prices in the Los Angeles region, Miami region and other large cities. Generally, the more facilities are in an area, the higher is the likelihood that they will compete for patients on price and service quality.
The great news is that with a standalone clinic 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 $225 for an MRI scan without contrast. Which means you will save 80% vs. the sticker price.
Hospitals directly refer their patients to their imaging facilities, so they are not directly motivated to provide affordable service. Especially research hospitals such as UCSF or Stanford are among the most expensive in the country. For instance, 2 years ago Stanford charged a patient $25,000+ for a single MRI.
If you happen to go to an out-of-network imaging center, you can be charged a large bill. In the edge cases, one patient had to pay $25,000+ for his daughter’s scan. Make sure that not only the imaging facility is in-network, but also the radiologist who will be reading the scan. Otherwise, you can be still charged the full cost.
In case you use your insurance for an MRI scan and it gets disapproved, you will be charged the full sticker price. Surprisingly, due to a legal agreement between insurance and facility, you won’t be able to negotiate. Therefore many patients prefer to pay for an MRI scan in cash.
The good news is that you can still do the magnetic resonance imaging procedure if you pay for it in cash. Instead of waiting 3-4 weeks, you can reach out to our AffordableScan concierge to help you schedule your appointment.
The usual MRI pricing ranges between $225-600 fee. This fee includes the radiologist reading and CD of the scan. Generally, we place most patients in a day or a week and you can expect the results within the next 2 business days.
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