How much does an MRI cost? Price lists and calculators online

Filed Under: Costs, Patients, Providers

 

SUMMARY: A lot of providers are starting to put health pricing information online. It may just be that we’re noticing this more, or that we’re looking harder, but it’s definitely a trend.

 

 


Here’s a pricing list from the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and another one from Metro Imaging in St. Louis.

Here’s another from Denville Diagnostics in New Jersey.

How much does an MRI cost? It’s not an easy question. The cost could be $295, or $998, or it could be $4,979.

An MRI of the lower back is one of our benchmark stats here at clearhealthcosts.com. Here’s a list of results for that procedure — answering the musical question “how much does an MRI cost?” — for the procedure, HCPCS code 72148, for San Francisco providers. Here’s a New York City list for the same procedure.

The short answer from our providers: low end $400, high end $1,945.

The Dartmouth-Hitchcock list of prices for procedures like an MRI, a CT scan, a sleep study, is here. The tab for a spine MRI: $3,000 facility charge, $693 professional charge, total $3,693. They offer a calculator for you to assess your actual out-of-pocket costs, depending on deductible and co-pay. Here’s the calculator.

Coincidentally, around the same time, we saw the calculator for the St. Louis  imaging center that has online price lists, comparing their cash or self-pay prices to the prices of hospitals (unnamed, and thus uncheckable) in the area. Their MRI price: $988. Metro Imaging has five clinics in the St. Louis area. Here’s their price list.

By the way, they’re selling on price. “I choose Metro Imaging because it costs me less than going to the hospital,” their site says.

Providers that offer cash or self-pay prices appeal not only to people who lack health insurance and who are paying cash. They also appeal to people on high-deductible plans, many of whom might find that the cash rates — depending on the provider — could undercut the prices they are charged under their insurers’ negotiated rates (the price the insurer and provider negotiate for people who are covered under an insurance policy).

And then, there’s always RPN of California, home of the $295 MRI. We wrote about them several times, including here; Robert Cloutier, the boss, says they are redoing their web site at rpnofcalifornia.com. (Editor’s note: RPN has closed, as of fall 2013.)

So what does an MRI cost? Check out the two sites here.