California is ranked number one in price fluctuation for MRI scans. According to NPR, a patient can pay as little as $255 or as high as $6,500 for an MRI scan. The article further mentions high costs are associated with tightly sealed contracts from insurance companies and doctors. MRI cost in San Diego also varies by location self-pay & independent facilities are more affordable versus academic medical centers. For example, a lower back MRI without contrast for a self-pay patient costs $350.00. On the contrary, a high deductible insurance patient can cost $1600.00.
It is important to note most of the time, all the bells and whistles associated with the new machines are not needed for the majority of diagnoses. MRI scans without contrast are used a majority of the time, and they are more cost friendly to the patient. Understanding the differences in needing an MRI with contrast versus an MRI without contrast is also vital in making a cost-effective decision. In the simplest of terms, MRI with contrast uses a substance that is injected into a certain part of the body to make it more visible on the scan. It is generally used to better observe the presence of tumors, and inflammation. It is also used to assist with the more accurate location of blood vessels, blood supply, as well as used on certain organs for a more optimal image.
Insurance Denying Scan:
Although this can be frustrating, it is a common occurrence. To prevent the back and forth hassle with insurance companies, patients can opt to pay cash for a necessary scan. Often, it is more cost affordable to go this route even when insurance approves the claim to avoid high deductibles, and out of pocket costs.