She saved $650 on an MRI by asking: How people shop for health care

Filed Under: Costs, Health plans, Patients

A community member writes:

“Just wanted to give you some information for this area: Zip code 36532, which is the Alabama eastern shore of Mobile Bay.

“Two weeks ago I had an MRI of both hip joints without contrast. The local monopoly healthcare system (Infirmary) charges $2,400. for that test with cash payers being given a 50% reduction. It’s a single MRI that covers both hips.

“However, just across the bay in Mobile, AL., there is a free standing Open MRI that charges exactly half of that. So, they charge $1,200. for those with insurance and $550. for those who pay cash.

“Cannot comment on the quality but the Open MRI in Mobile, Al has a machine that is 3-4 years old and the Infirmary system has one new machine and 2 others with a few years on them. The other factor is: how good is the radiologist who reads the test.

“It helps all to stay current on the charges.

“I was a resident of Atlanta for many years, and got accustomed to researching the cost of care, and there were many options. I always attempt to educate doctors about cost.

“I have to be interested because I was an independent contractor – a CRNA . I have always had to buy my own insurance…..expensive! I recently retired.

“I also object to the many national monopolies that exist in the US. There is a concerted effort by insurers, hospital administrations and politicians to force single payer healthcare.

“The general public and actual providers are for the most part asleep at the wheel. Your site shows the downside of the monopolies. Prices escalate when there is little competition. The Atlanta area is much more competitive as a market and there are many price options.

“Thank you and you may use what you wish as long as my personal information is removed.”