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How Much Does an MRI Cost?

Opinions around the internet vary widely in regards to how much an MRI costs. I’ve seen estimates from $200 to $5000. I had an MRI performed on me after I tore my ACL just over a year ago, so theoretically I should have a pretty good idea of how much they actually cost. However, amidst all of the various bills and procedures I had during that time period, I realized that I actually had no idea how much my MRI had cost when my friend Alice asked me because she couldn’t get a straight answer out of the UW Medical Center.

An aside: This inability to get good pricing information about medical problems is a major problem with our healthcare system and a significant contributor to high health care costs.

Regardless, after Alice asked that question, I set about to find the true cost of my MRI, and now I have decided to share that information with the world in hopes that disseminating good information on the subject can help some people make more informed decisions about their health care.

In each case below, there are four costs: The total cost of the procedure, how much my insurance at the time (United Helathcare via Honeywell) paid, adjustments (usually these are contractual changes to the price based on your insurance), and patient responsibility, which is how much money I ended up paying when it was all said and done.

Date of service: 2007.10.05
Cost of MRI: $1871.00
Insurance Payment: $1227.38
Adjustments: $336.78
Patient responsibility: $306.84

In addition, a radiologist had to look at the film to diagnose the torn ACL and sprained LCL. That breakdown:

MRI, Joint of Leg: $195.00
Insurance payment: $8.41
Adjustments: $84.49
Patient responsibility: $102.10

Furthermore, a surgeon had to refer me to the MRI and he did a follow-up visit where he basically agreed with the findings of the radiologist. For each visit, the breakdown went like this:

Office Consultation: $256.50
Insurance Payment: $179.95
Contract Adjustment: $46.55
Patient responsibility: $30.00

So, how much does an MRI cost? The short answer is about $2000.

The long answer is it does depend on your insurance, but this really doesn’t change the base cost which remains around $2000. With relatively good insurance (like I had at the time), expect to cover around $400-$500 out of your pocket for the whole process. Of course, if something bad is diagnosed, your adventure into the vagueries of modern medicine has just begun!

8 Responses to “How Much Does an MRI Cost?”

  1. Mona Lori Says:

    Ryan – This is great information for consumers. Would you be willing to post your MRI price information in a community website to help consumers look up prices, find the best value and compare what other consumers paid for similar services? The website is http://www.outofpocket.com and relies on consumers to post/share prices they paid for actual services – to share with other consumers.

    I actually researched MRI prices last year. My conclusion, MRI prices range from $348-$3500. My research can be found at http://outofpocket.com/OOP/research.aspx.

    Regards,
    Mona

  2. Stickman Says:

    Sounds about right. I remember a $1400 bill I didn’t expect.

  3. Nae Says:

    Thank you! Incredibly helpful!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. In pain Says:

    Thanks! Very helpful. I wish hospitals were as forthcoming with this sort of information.

  5. James Street Says:

    It would be nice to know what the actual cost for simply running the MRI machine to produce a picture WITHOUT any added costs such as the cost of the MRI machine itself or the radiologists and technicians needed to run the MRI machine.

    With this knowledge we could begin to get an idea of the true cost to our country of mass screenings for diseases such as cancer.

    If it only costs a few dollars, for example, to simply produce the picture, we could find ways to bring the human costs down by the same mass production methods other industries use.

  6. Bruce Vandermeulen Says:

    I think it’s important to set out that not all MRI machines and radiologists (who read the MRI and prepare the report) are equal. Thee are T1.5 and T3 machines. The T3 being more sensitive and higher quality and therefore costs more.

    Also, you can hire a specialized radiologist to read an MRI, such as a neuro-radiologist for head MRIs.

    Finally, if you have an MRI on several parts of your body, the cost also goes up.

  7. Cheska Says:

    Sounds about right.With this knowledge we could begin to get an idea of the true cost to our country of mass screenings for diseases such as cancer.Thanks for sharing this.

  8. uhaul Says:

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