Four Steps to Get the Cheapest MRI Near You

Unless you’re a millionaire, we all have a similar fear: getting slapped with sudden, unexpected medical bills reaching into the thousands and crippling our financial stability. Or worse, having to choose between our health or paying the mortgage. 

The good news: there are ways of cutting costs. It just takes some legwork or the help of a knowledgeable professional. One of the best places to save is on your radiology: MRI's, X-rays, CT Scans, etc.. If your doctor orders an MRI, for example, you can actually shop around for the best price. Follow these steps to find the cheapest MRI near you.

Step 1: Choose to pay cash

Paying in cash is one of the best-kept secrets in the medical industry. It's possible to save thousands of dollars by paying cash for your healthcare. For people without health insurance, you’re probably used to paying cash for all your medical care.  However, for those with insurance, if you don’t know about paying cash, it’s time to learn. Even with expensive insurance, you’ll often pay more out of pocket by using your insurance and paying the deductible compared to simply paying for the procedure in cash. 

Some medical providers used to charge high prices to self-pay patients until laws were passed to prevent price gouging.

Today, many providers offer lower prices for paying in cash because it saves them time and money by avoiding the excessive administrative work of billing your insurance company.

In fact, some providers have negotiated higher prices for insurers to cover their losses from giving discounts to patients who pay cash.

Step 2: Shop around the CPT code for the cheapest MRI price

Start calling around to various MRI providers in your area and ask for their pricing so you can compare. Keep in mind that to get accurate pricing, you must give them the specific CPT code on your doctor’s order.

A CPT code is a medical code created by the American Medical Association that corresponds to the specific procedure or medical service that you receive. For instance, one CPT code refers to an MRI of your lumbar spine, another to an MRI of your cervical spine, and so on. This reduces miscommunications and ensures that your entire medical team (and health insurance companies) are on the same page about the exact care that you need. 

Step 3: Ask about the machine specifications

Not all MRI machines are made equal.

Machines can vary in terms of their power and accuracy. When calling around to various MRI providers to check their pricing, be sure to ask about the strength of their MRI machines, which is measured in Teslas.

For perspective, 1.5-Tesla MRIs are becoming the new minimum standard, though you may see some providers with the newer 3.0-Tesla MRIs. Be sure to watch out for facilities that have older MRI machines with weaker strengths because if the machine's imaging is too low-quality, it may not be good enough for your doctor to accurately guide your care. In that case, your doctor may need you to get a repeat MRI altogether.

Step 4: Pick the best option

Keep detailed notes about the pricing and MRI strength from each MRI provider you call. With this in hand, you can compare each of them and choose the one that offers the best value based on all the factors you considered.

OR Cut to Step Four for the Cheapest MRI

As you can imagine, shopping around for the cheapest MRI can take a lot of time, especially if you live in an urban area with many MRI providers. Your other option is to use Imaging Panda to get a cheap MRI. We’ve done all this legwork for you - we’ve found the cash prices for the MRI centers near you and simplified the entire appointment booking process. Based on your doctor’s order, we can help you find the cheapest MRI without sacrificing quality.