February 9, 2023
February 9, 2023

MRI Scan Costs: How To Find More Affordable Imaging

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MRI Scan Costs: How To Find More Affordable Imaging

Key takeaways:

  • MRI machines are among the most versatile diagnostic tools available.
  • The cost of an MRI scan depends on your location, the facility type, and other factors.
  • Hospitals charge the most for MRIs. You can save money on MRI scans by shopping around.
  • MRI scan costs are also high because MRI machines are expensive.
  • Ezra offers great full-body MRI scan plans at significant savings.

Many health concerns could make you wonder about the cost of imaging procedures such as MRI scans— especially if you need to pay out of pocket.

Perhaps the pain in your back has become untenable and your clinician has suggested it may have to do with bulging or ruptured disks. Or, there might be cancer in your family’s medical history, and you simply want to take control of your medical care and stay ahead of your health.

In either case, your physician may have recommended that you see a radiologist for an imaging procedure so they can see what’s going on inside your body.

As imaging procedures go, the MRI machine is the most versatile diagnostic tool. It can look for abnormalities in your body’s various soft tissues, including your blood vessels, brain, spinal cord, and several major organs.

Health care professionals may use MRI scans to take a look at:

  • Tumors and cysts
  • Damaged ligaments
  • Joint injury or disease
  • Spinal injury or disease
  • Damage or disease of internal organs

If you must see a radiologist, imaging procedures like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scans), X-rays, CT scans, or mammograms can be expensive with or without medical insurance.

How Much Does an MRI Scan Cost?

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Recently, MRI scan costs have been going up, especially in hospital settings.

According to a recent study done by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), many people simply accept the referral from their medical practitioner or service provider and don’t shop around for an affordable imaging center.

The National Bureau of Economic Research reports that “Despite significant out-of-pocket cost exposure, patients often received care in high-priced locations when lower-priced options were available. Fewer than 1 percent of individuals used a price transparency tool to search for the price of their services in advance of care.”

The price range of an MRI scan can go from a few hundred to thousands of dollars, depending on your situation.

Prices vary by the type of facility, as you can get an MRI at a freestanding radiology clinic, emergency care clinic, or hospital. The type of MRI (with or without contrast dye) and body parts the scan focuses on also impact pricing.

Here are the MRI scan cost ranges in the United States by the type of scan:

  • An MRI of the upper extremity: $1,050-$7,000
  • An MRI of the lower extremity: $975-$6,300
  • Brain MRI: $1,600-$8,400
  • Neck MRI: $500-$11,800
  • Chest MRI: $500-$7,900
  • Breast MRI $500-$10,300
  • Abdominal MRI: $1,600-$7,600
  • Cardiac MRI: $430-$6,500

Knowing more about pricing for imaging procedures, obtaining estimates before your screening, and understanding why the prices vary can ensure that you minimize your out-of-pocket costs.

Fortunately, MRI scans are often covered by health insurance if ordered by your medical provider. Still, insurance plans offer different levels of coverage. ​

High-deductible health plans or substantial copays can mean more money out of pocket. Reach out to your insurance company to learn more about your policy and MRI coverage.

If you’re uninsured or you are opting for an elective MRI, you’ll probably self-pay out of pocket. Fortunately, you can save money on MRI scans by doing your research and booking your MRI at a radiology center such as ezra rather than a hospital.

Why Does an MRI Scan Cost So Much?

Overhead costs can help explain why hospitals charge so much for MRI scans.

The hospital must buy the MRI equipment, and MRI scanners are especially expensive. Typically, a new MRI machine costs upwards of $1 million.

In addition to that, emergency room and intensive care unit (ICU) overhead costs are notoriously expensive. These overhead costs are due to various labeled “facility fees,” which are typically not disclosed to patients. Some hospitals up-charge patients for radiology procedures, among others, to help offset those other expenses.

Clinics, hospitals, and imaging centers also need to pay for maintenance and administration fees. These costs are generally pushed to the patients.

How Can I Save on MRI Scan Costs?

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Freestanding imaging centers are a great way to save money on radiology screening’s high costs, especially if you’re uninsured or if you wish to book annual elective screenings to stay on top of your healthcare.

At ezra, we strive to make screening for potential cancer accessible to everyone, so we have flexible payment plans: We offer monthly and yearly payment options.

The full-body MRI is ezra’s most popular plan. This scan can help detect cancer in up to 13 organs. The monthly payment option is $180/month, while the yearly payment option costs $1,950.

Our full-body MRI plus is a 60-minute full-body MRI without contrast dye plus a five-minute low-dose chest CT. This is our most advanced plan, which can screen for potential cancers in the head, neck, abdomen, pelvis, and lungs. The yearly option costs $2,350, and the monthly plan is $220/month.

Ezra also offers multi-year plans in which you receive a full-body plus scan each year and exclusive access to new products and services. These plans are available at $7,000 for a five-year plan and $5,300 for a three-year plan.

Protect Your Health With ezra

MRI costs can be painfully high due to expensive equipment and overhead costs. This is especially true for those who are uninsured or wish to schedule elective scans.

Ezra has taken a different approach by partnering with existing state-of-the-art radiology centers to maximize their MRI machine time usage. These imaging centers typically do more MRIs than hospitals and medical clinics.

As a result, the equipment, maintenance, and administration costs can be spread more equitably, thereby lowering each patient’s expense.

If you’re interested, you can learn more about ezra’s full-body MRI protocol, how it protects your health, and how it stacks up against other imaging options.