How Much Does an MRI Cost – With & Without Health Insurance 

Magnetic resonance imaging, also known as MRI, is a type of medical imaging test scan that is completely non-invasive. It captures detailed images of your internal organs without any instrument puncturing through your skin or body opening. Your doctor may use this procedure to help them diagnose you or fully check your health after treatment. Since you need an MRI scan test per doctor’s orders, you are now wondering how much it will cost. Many questions circulate in your mind as you simultaneously worry about your health. Let us ease some of those worries as this article answer your questions. 

Things To Consider

Consider these factors in determining how much your MRI procedure will cost. One of the most significant factors is the location of the facility where you will be scanned. If you reside in a rural area with limited facilities, you can expect the cost to be higher. In addition, you should look for outpatient facilities because they cost cheaper than inpatient ones. Healthcare facilities where you need to stay and be admitted are considered inpatient, while outpatient facilities let you visit for a short time. Choosing which facilities depends on your overall health, so you must consult your doctor. 

Another factor you should consider is what part of your body will be scanned. MRI prices depend on which body part to be checked. And, of course, your insurance and network providers can greatly affect the cost of your MRI. They can help to shoulder some expenses, making it less. Lastly, requesting additional medical services can make you pay more. 

How Does The MRI Work?

The MRI machine uses radio waves and magnets to provide 3D images of your internal organs. During an MRI scan, a patient will be laid down and put inside the equipment, causing them to enter a strong magnetic field. Inside, the radio transmitter will send you a radio wave through you to shake the hydrogen nuclei or protons inside your body. After that, as your protons shake, they will produce a new radio wave that the antenna or coil will detect, and the computer will turn it into an image. Since the MRI can be narrow for some patients, claustrophobic people need to be sedated. The use of sedatives will be added to the medical expenses.

What is the Difference Between an MRI and a CT Scan?

Just like the MRI, the computerized tomography scan, also known as a CT scan, can view your internal body parts. It quickly captures x-ray pictures of skeletal structures, tissues, and organs. Usually, CT scans are the first choice to do imaging. However, MRIs are used to further detect certain diseases and provide more thorough procedures, producing more detailed images.

MRI Costs Based On Body Parts

Now, how much does an MRI cost with & without health insurance? The price of an MRI is already considered a fair price at around $750. If we base the costs of MRI on which body parts will be scanned, the prices can range from $400 to $12,000. The following details show the average MRI costs if it depends on the body parts.

  • Head and Brain 

A brain MRI costs range from $1,600 to $8,400. For the head, the average cost of the MRI starts around $410 to $6,100.

  • Neck 

The neck MRI price ranges from $500 to $11,800.

  • Chest, breast, and cardiac

The chest MRI will cost around $500 to $7,900. For both breasts, it will cost you $500 to $6,900. On the other hand, an MRI of one breast will cost around $500 to $10,300. A Cardiac MRI has an average cost of $430 to $6,500.

  • Abdomen 

If you need an abdomen MRI, the average cost of an abdominal MRI ranges from $1,600 to $7,600.

  • Cervical spine 

Price ranges from $1,400 to $7,600 for the MRI cervical spine cost average.

  • Upper extremities

The upper extremities include the wrist, shoulder, hand, and arm. An MRI in these regions will cost you from $1,050 to $7,000.

  • Pelvic 

The pelvic MRI will amount to around $500 to $7,900.

  • Lower extremities

Your leg, foot, hip, and ankle are your lower extremities. The average MRI cost of the lower extremity ranges from $975 to $6,300.

  • Bone

The average bone MRI will cost you around $410 to $2,100.

Why Are MRIs So Expensive? 

The MRI equipment is worth one to three million dollars or more. It is expensive because it needs a lot of electricity to run, which may cost $5,000 to $20,000 a month. The annual maintenance of the equipment will amount to around $20,000 per year. MRI scans are expensive considering all those facts, including the service fees of the technicians who operate them and the physicians who interpret your results.

What Affects The Cost Of An MRI Procedure? 

The cost of an MRI can be influenced by several factors, such as:

  • Health insurance coverage: The cost may vary based on your insurance policy, from a fixed copay to a percentage of the total bill.
  • In-network vs. out-of-network providers: Providers within your network may only charge a contracted rate negotiated with the insurance company, which is usually lower than the out-of-network or out-of-pocket cost.
  • Type of scan: An open MRI scan is typically less expensive than a traditional or closed MRI scan. An MRI scan with contrast also tends to cost more.
  • The body part being scanned: The cost may vary based on the body part being checked, with a brain scan potentially costing more than a knee scan due to the need for specialized analysis.
  • Place of service (inpatient vs. outpatient): The cost may be influenced by the location, with freestanding MRI centers typically costing less than hospital scans as they have lower running costs.
  • Regional location: The cost may be influenced by the city, state, or region where the scan is being conducted.
  • Sedatives: For those claustrophobic, a sedative may be required, which can add extra costs, with the type of sedation (oral, IV conscious sedation, or general anesthesia) affecting the cost.
  • Radiologist reading: An additional charge may apply for a radiologist to review and interpret the results.

Does Your Insurance Cover All MRI Expenses?

Does Your Insurance Cover All MRI Expenses?

Typically, health insurance can cover MRI scan costs. However, you still can pay some fees like copay, which is a flat fee, coinsurance which is the percentage after insurance, and deductibles that you pay for health care services before the insurance plan takes effect. Contact your insurance provider to determine how much your insurance plan can cover your expenses.

What To Do If You Have No Insurance? 

You can still reduce the MRI costs if you don’t have health insurance. Ask for financial options to lessen the initial costs, such as discounts, medical payment plans, and assistance programs from your healthcare providers. Also, you can decrease the overall costs if you explore other facility options like urgent care clinics, walk-in clinics, and freestanding imaging centers. Before doing so, wait for the approval of your doctor.

The Bottomline

The answer to “how much does an MRI cost with & without health insurance?” may vary. But, given all the factors you need to consider, this may be more expensive. Also, the cost of MRI scans depends on what kind of facility you are in and its location. Price ranges will be based on which body part the MRI will scan. However, a method that can help you in paying the cost of your MRI is getting insurance. But even without insurance, you can reduce the fees if you ask your healthcare provider for options financially or your doctor to explore other facilities. Simply put, you must research and inquire how to get a cheaper MRI cost. 

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