Each month tens of thousands of Americans search the internet to find out how much an MRI costs.
Is it $1,000? $2,000? More? Can anyone do it for $600-700, or even less? The best information some patients can hope to find is a broad price range or a list of facilities
where prices will “probably” be lower than the rest, but too many come away with little useful information. Patients paying for an MRI out of their own pocket are terrified
they can’t know how much they'll spend until they get the bill.
Cost-conscious consumers would love to find the actual price of an MRI at one or two facilities at least. Is that really such an unreasonable request?
On Pricing Healthcare’s website you can already find actual cash prices for MRIs at facilities
in a number of states, including Pennsylvania,
The platform is bringing this information into public view, free for everyone to find, search, and compare.
So, how much does an MRI cost?
In reality, the cost of an MRI can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, even within the same geographic area. The price difference largely depends on where the MRI is performed.
Hospitals and hospital-based facilities typically charge the highest MRI prices because they have greater overhead costs.
Stand-alone imaging centers, small clinics, and even some physician offices can offer the same MRI with no difference in quality at a much lower cost. For example,
some imaging centers in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area charge $450 for any MRI without contrast
or $650 for any MRI with contrast. One facility in Utah charges
or $399 for an MRI without contrast, and that price includes full access and ownership of the images and a written report
from their radiologist. That $399 price point is more common than you might expect. An MRI without contrast also costs
$399 in Birmingham, Alabama
and in Atlanta, Georgia.
How to find MRI prices near you
These examples illustrate the power and convenience of a single, simple platform for healthcare consumers to shop and compare healthcare prices. Patients shouldn’t have to search through multiple
healthcare facility websites only to discover that most don’t list their prices. Pricing Healthcare continuously adds
new facilities, procedures, and prices
and makes it possible for providers to start listing a few of their prices for free. If you can’t find a close enough facility that lists MRI prices on Pricing Healthcare's site,
you can make a request using the link at the top of any page on the website. This notifies the Pricing Healthcare team that there’s a patient in a specific area looking for a specific procedure,
which is used by marketing staff to reach out to facilities performing that procedure in the requested area.
If you need an MRI soon and can’t wait, here are some steps you can follow to find pricing at nearby facilities (and hopefully save yourself some money).
- Go to Google.com and search for MRI facilities in your area. Use phrases like "MRI in [city, state]" or "imaging center in [city, state]" (don’t include the quotation marks
or brackets in your search).
If you live in a small city, enter multiple cities or the largest nearby city.
- Call the facilities on the phone.
- Tell the office staff that you’re a cash payer needing an MRI.
- Tell them exactly what type of MRI you need, and ask what their cash price is.
- When they tell you the pricing information you need, thank them for their time and tell them you may call back later to schedule an appointment.
It’s important to know that very few MRIs require a doctor referral. Even if you’ve already seen a doctor who has referred you to a specific facility, you do not need to use that facility.
Doctors often refer patients to the most expensive facilities for various reasons. You can choose where and when you have the procedure done.
Pricing Healthcare increases MRI price transparency
Pricing Healthcare helps patients find prices on MRIs and thousands of other procedures
in a consistent format that’s easy to navigate. With each patient request and every new provider choosing to post prices on the site,
the platform becomes a greater help for consumers, both to find more affordable care, and to make better informed decisions about their care.
Tyler Smith is a content specialist at Pricing Healthcare, an open, online marketplace for quality and affordable healthcare.