You’d never buy the first house, vehicle, or sofa you saw. We all shop around for large purchases and often for smaller purchases too, like clothes and home décor. When it comes to certain types of medical care, though, most people look no further than one recommendation.
Medical imaging has this problem in spades. In most cases, a doctor tells their patient they need an MRI and they refer them to an imaging center they know. The doctor doesn’t know what that imaging center may charge or how it might compare to others, but patients assume it’s their only option.
In reality, in the same way you can choose your pharmacy, most people don't know they can choose their imaging center. Here’s why you should shop around for your next MRI provider.
Why you should choose your MRI provider carefully
Every product or service can range in quality, and MRIs are no different.
Not all imaging centers are equal. Some imaging centers have newer or more advanced MRI machines, some maintain their machines better, and some have better radiologists. It’s important to know what you’re getting.
Beyond quality, prices for MRIs will vary widely from one imaging center to another, and in many cases, the price doesn’t match up with the quality you’d receive. One imaging center could charge twice as much as a center two miles away for the same procedure with the same technology.
How to shop around for MRI imaging centers
To choose your MRI provider, it’s critical to shop around with the imaging centers in your area. Shopping for your MRI can be tough, though, because facilities may ask you for healthcare jargon like CPT codes to get you an accurate price.
A CPT code is a medical code that classifies the exact procedure you need. For instance, one CPT code refers to an MRI for particular areas of the spine without contrast while another code calls for an MRI of the abdomen with contrast.
When you call each imaging center, give them the CPT code your doctor ordered. Be sure to ask for their pricing if you were to pay in cash and ask for the out-of-pocket cost of using your insurance. Most people don’t realize that imaging centers and other healthcare providers often charge less to patients who pay in cash. After all, it’s saving them from the time and expense of going back and forth with the insurance company, so they pass along part of that savings to you.
The easiest way to find the most affordable, high-quality MRI provider
The traditional way to choose an MRI provider is to search for all the imaging centers in your area and call each one to ask for their pricing. As you can imagine, this takes time and can be a logistical headache. Imaging Panda, on the other hand, is a service dedicated to doing this work for you. Learn more about our price comparisons for medical imaging.