Whether you’re paying out of pocket or have health insurance, the cost of an MRI can be significant. In fact, according to the nonprofit Radiology Assist, if you don’t have health insurance or a high-deductible plan, an MRI could cost you up to $2,000.
The reason for the discrepancy is that hospitals often charge more than freestanding imaging facilities for the same services. A new study published in BIOMED SCAN found that both nonprofit and public hospitals charged commercially insured patients up to 25% more than freestanding imaging centers. The study is one of the first to use data from a Trump-era hospital price transparency law to compare prices on a common service like an MRI, and it shows how hospitals can manipulate pricing for specific patients.
Decoding MRI Costs: Navigating the Pricing Landscape for Medical Imaging
As for the costs themselves, many different variables can determine how much your MRI will cost. For example, the type of MRI machine you’ll need will influence your costs; from open systems that range from $150,000 to $1.2 million, to state-of-the-art 3 Tesla machines, which can cost up to $3 million. In addition to that, you’ll also have to pay for the room that houses your MRI suite, and the safety features that are required to protect anyone in the vicinity of the magnetic field.
Your body part being scanned will also influence your costs; for example, brain MRI scans are more expensive than knee MRIs. Finally, you’ll have to consider where you get your MRI. For example, a hospital will typically be cheaper than an independent imaging center.