If your doctor has just informed you that you need medical imaging done, you may look for the closest imaging center or perhaps assumed that the hospital imaging center was your best or only choice. Patients don’t often think about medical care as they ordinarily would as a smart or savvy shopper. But you should! Choosing the wrong place for your MRI, CT, or ultrasound scan could cost you hundreds of dollars more at a hospital or its separate imaging center. If you “shop” and plan ahead, you can end up saving a lot of money. Read on to learn more about the reality of cost discrepancy between hospital imaging and privately owned, freestanding facilities.
Why Do Hospitals Charge More?
A hospital is usually open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year long. Because of the need to staff and power the hospital facility continuously, a hospital is expensive to run. Operations, such as billing, security, and maintenance, in a hospital are complex and costly to run. Laundry, cafeterias, and more all factor into the added cost of a hospital. In addition, a hospital imaging exam usually results in two charges; one for the hospital facility use and another from the radiologist for his/her interpretation fee. Because of the hospital’s high overhead costs and imaging as one of the hospital’s largest revenue producers, you pay more out of pocket. For instance, if your copay is 20 percent of the two separate charges and the total of the two allowed charges is $2,000, your out of pocket cost is $400. And that is considering that you have met your deductible!
Anthem Limits Scans at Hospitals
As testament to the rising and unbridled costs of scans done in hospital imaging centers, Anthem BCBS is tightening its policy on where patients can get their imaging performed. Specifically mentioning MRI and CT scans, Anthem will require patients to use independent imaging centers instead of hospitals (just for reference, Anthem does not insure in Oklahoma). Anthem cites the cost differences for why they are limiting hospital scans: “There are huge cost disparities for imaging services, depending on where members receive their diagnostic tests…Members can save close to $1,000 out-of-pocket for some imaging services for those who haven’t met their deductible, and up to $200 for those whose plans require only a copay.” Why has such a large payer chosen to limit hospital medical imaging? It is because the costs associated with those scans are higher, sometimes astronomically higher, than freestanding facilities and this is their way to rein in costs so insurance premiums might slow their unacceptable rise.
The Cost Discrepancy
So just how much more could a hospital scan cost you? Based on statistics from the Healthcare Financial Management Association, all imaging prices are considerably higher at hospitals. This is often 2-3 times as much as at a free standing imaging center, such as Servant Medical Imaging. Be informed and learn about your options for medical imaging before you are hit with an unnecessary and large hospital bill.
Benefits of Freestanding Medical Imaging Facilities
Saving money, while still getting quality imaging, is a choice that almost everyone would make if aware that they can, and it is each patient’s right to chose where they are imaged (with the occasional exception of an HMO or other insurance limitation). Besides saving a bundle of money at a private freestanding imaging center, it is easier to park, not as large and confusing as a hospital and less hassle navigating through the corridors and floors to find the imaging department!. You walk right in the front doors of Servant Medical Imaging and you are greeted by the imaging staff and paperwork and hassles are minimized. Many people enjoy the small, friendly, and more comfortable atmosphere that our medical imaging centers offer. So, if you need medical imaging done, you now know that you have options!
If you are in Oklahoma (or nearby, as we have patients drive from Arkansas, Texas and Kansas for our low cash prices when they have high deductibles or no insurance), Servant Medical Imaging has 10 convenient locations to serve you! We offer MRI, CT scans, ultrasound, arthrography and x-rays, and would love to be your trusted, affordable alternative to the hospital! We know that medical bills can be a sobering reality for many patients, and would love to help you with quality medical imaging at great prices.