MRIs, CT scans, and other radiology procedures are no one’s idea of a fun way to spend the afternoon. For a wide range of medical conditions and concerns, though, they’re necessary to get to the bottom of a problem and treat it efficiently. In fact, radiology procedures are often considered “diagnostic” exams, meaning they are required to make a diagnosis and are critical to helping your doctor manage your care
Unfortunately, there are people all across the country who need these procedures for their medical care but are struggling to afford them. The good news is that there are often more affordable healthcare options than you think. Here’s how to save on your radiology needs.
Pay in cash
We all assume that having health insurance will save us money on medical costs, but for needs other than extreme, devastatingly expensive circumstances, it might not.
Even if you have insurance, you could have lower out of pocket costs if you pay in cash.
While providers used to overprice treatments for self-pay patients, regulations have been created to offer more affordable priced doctors and medical procedures. In fact, providers today often charge less for self-pay options because it saves them the time and expense of going back and forth with an insurance company. As a result, you can save thousands of dollars by paying cash for your MRIs, CT Scans, and other radiology exams.
You would never buy a vehicle without shopping around, so why not shop around for medical care? A recent study surveyed 3,000 people and discovered that while the majority of them believed comparison shopping for medical care was a good practice, only 3% of them actually did it. If you’re not shopping around for your health care, you may not realize how much money you’re leaving on the table.
Call around to various providers in your area who offer the imaging you need. Give them the specific CPT code on your doctor’s order and ask for their self-pay pricing as well as the pricing for your insurance plan.
(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 X-ray of your spine, another to an X-ray of your chest, 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.)
From there, call around to various providers in your area. Give them that CPT code and ask for their prices, both for paying in cash and for using your insurance if you have insurance. In general, radiology studies will be more affordable at outpatient diagnostic imaging centers compared to hospitals. You may be surprised, however; in many cases, it may cost less to pay for your X-ray in cash rather than using your insurance.
Shopping around even if you doctor makes a referral
In many cases, when doctors recommend a certain procedure like a radiology procedure, they’ll refer you to an individual clinic. In many cases, unfortunately, patients often follow the referral blindly rather than shopping around.
Don’t assume your doctor knows all the details of which imaging centers are in your area and how much they charge. Doctors often provide a specific referral simply because choosing the facility can be easier for their patients, but they have no way of knowing what your costs would be. Similar to how you can choose your pharmacy, you have the right to choose your imaging center.
Ask your doctor for several recommendations, or ask them, “What are the affordable, high-quality clinics near me?” Or, after comparison shopping, call your doctor, tell them the most cost-effective providers you found, and ask which one they’d recommend.
Get help from the pros
It’s likely that part of the reason most people don’t comparison shop for affordable healthcare is because it’s a hassle. Our healthcare system is still a bit in the stone age and medical providers aren’t exactly known for their quick, convenient phone conversations or for their straightforward pricing information. If that’s holding you back, don’t lose hope – there is now a better way.
Our service at Imaging Panda is specifically designed to help you save money on radiology procedures like MRIs, CT scans, and X-rays in your area. We help you find the most affordable, high quality imaging providers to get the testing you need.