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How much does an MRI cost? Average costs and tips for paying less

Key takeaways:

  • An MRI scan is a powerful diagnostic tool that helps clinicians detect possible cancer and disease. 
  • MRI scans are costly, and the cost varies greatly across location and type of facility.
  • MRI scans at hospitals are costlier and include many hidden costs.
  • You can save money by getting MRI scans done at dedicated imaging centers.
  • Ezra offers a 60-minute MRI scan with monthly payment plans and considerable savings. You can also pay with your FSA/HSA account.

An MRI scan is used by many health care practitioners to diagnose a disease or an injury. MRI scans can be done on various parts of the body. Among other purposes, MRI scans are used to locate abnormalities that may indicate cancer.

However, MRI scans can be expensive. Before getting a scan, the most common question is “How much does an MRI cost?” and more importantly, how much will they have to pay?

How FSA and HSA dollars can help you save on your MRI scans.

Healthcare costs in the US have been steadily rising and is one of the Top 10 financial concerns of Americans. 

Americans have the choice to enroll in low- and high-deductible health plans depending on their life goals and their overall health. A high-deductible health plan, or HDHP, allows people the option to pay lower premiums on their healthcare. In 2019, 51% of the American workforce was enrolled in HDHPs, a steep 43% increase in enrollment in the past five years (2014 to 2019). And while HDHPs offer cheaper monthly premiums, they also come with challenges that can adversely affect an individual’s or family’s financial balance during a health emergency. 

By delaying proactive, preventative care for fear of costs, people may exacerbate an already existing medical condition. In short, as far as healthcare is concerned, Americans often find themselves between the proverbial rock and a hard place. 

But if an individual uses the tax-advantaged Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) and Health Savings Accounts (HSA), they can easily manage their medical needs, even emergencies, with ease. 

Ezra lets you pay with your FSA/HSA dollars, allowing you to use this money wisely and help you save a considerable amount of money on your MRI costs. 

Why does an MRI cost so much?

How much does an MRI cost: doctor assisting a patient going into an MRI machine

An MRI scan is a non-invasive diagnostic tool that uses a combination of strong magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the inside of the body. Sometimes, a contrast dye is injected to help visualize blood flow. An MRI scan helps visualize abnormalities in the soft tissues, blood vessels or any body part. 

The average cost of an MRI test in the U.S. can vary. The price range varies depending on the type of scan. One can pay a steep amount for the scan, but to understand why the cost of the MRI is so high, we need to realize the following.

A Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI machine can range anywhere from $150,000 to $3 million, depending upon their field of strength. Then there is the MRI suite, or the room housing the MRI setup. The room itself can cost thousands of dollars to construct because it needs to include features that would protect the equipment, the patient, and the personnel operating the equipment.

Add in machine operation costs (including liquid helium), energy costs, cost of radiologist and other trained personnel, and maintenance and repair of the MRI machine, and you get an idea as to why the cost of an MRI is so high.

Within the healthcare system, there is little transparency about the costs of the test. Most people are likely to experience the pain of sticker shock with some hospitals charging as much as $25,000 for an MRI scan, as this family painfully found out.

How to save money on MRI costs.

How much does an MRI cost: woman happily looking at her laptop

Getting a scan at such a facility can be a costly affair. Check out these tips to save a significant amount of money from your scan bills. 

Comparison shop.

Before heading straight to an imaging center, take a break. Do your own research. First, try to find out how much your test will cost. There are crowdsourced databases like ClearHealthCosts where you can check the costs of medical tests at different centers in your area. These databases also usually tell you how much contribution your health insurance will pay if you get a test done at a particular center. 

Look for dedicated imaging centers. 

You’ll find that some freestanding diagnostic centers offer scans at lower prices than hospitals. Where hospitals usually upcharge for your MRI because they are looking to offset the operational costs of other departments, dedicated imaging centers focus only on performing tests and charge accordingly. These days, insurers are also encouraging people to opt to get diagnostic tests done at outpatient centers. 

Deal directly with imaging centers.

Two women discussing a document

When you’ve found a freestanding diagnostic center, try to negotiate with them directly, rather than going through your insurance company. This is especially helpful if you have a high-deductible health plan. 

Insurers usually take 3-4 weeks before they send in their approval. But when you are dealing directly with the imaging center, you can get an appointment in a few days.

However, with Ezra, you can book an appointment online right away.

Pay with cash or credit card.

Look to pay in cash or through your credit card. If the imaging center is saving on billing costs and is freed from the hassles of dealing with your insurance company, they are more likely to give you a discount.

Ask about annual plans.

Many diagnostic centers have a range of payment options to suit the needs of different individuals. If you’re looking to take charge of your health and get an MRI test done every year, ask if the imaging center has an annual plan. Enrolling in an annual plan can come with discounted rates. 

Ezra offers an annual payment plan that saves money compared to paying monthly. Ezra also offers multi-year plans with savings up to 40% over a 5-year period.

Protect your health without breaking the bank.

A high-quality freestanding imaging center is a great option for MRI procedures. 

Although an MRI scan usually requires a prescription from a medical provider, Ezra can facilitate it for you. Getting an Ezra Scan is a proactive way to take control of your health. So, if you’re looking to stay one step ahead of any unexpected health issues, consider regular testing.

Ezra offers straightforward pricing, no hidden costs, and services like a personal Care Advisor and mid-year check-ins. There are monthly and yearly payment plans for more savings. The Ezra Full Body checks up to 13 organs in just an hour. From taking your medical history all the way to explaining you the scan results, Ezra’s expert team helps you be proactive about your health.