1. Become an educated consumer. Take ownership in your health care dollar and understand why you were referred to one place over another. Ask your doctor if he or she is required by his or her employer or financially incentivized to send you to a particular medical facility for testing.
  2. Look up your imaging study. There are numerous websites that provide estimates in most areas of the country for tests such as MRI and CT scans. Many health insurance providers also may provide that type of information. If you are recommended by your medical provider to have a test, ask for the CPT code. CPT stands for Current Procedural Terminology as is the code that will be used to bill for the test. It’s universally used across all testing centers. Online, do a search for “MRI cost” or “MRI price” and most often the results provide the sites you can use to become further financially educated.
  3. Know your imaging study (e.g. x-rays, CTs and MRIs) options: They are independent imaging centers and hospitals.
  4. Call the imaging centers. Ask for the medical billing department or person to get charges from both hospital and non-hospital options. Ask for 1) the total cost in case you have a high deductible insurance plan and have to pay the entire amount or in case your health insurance company denies your claim and ask for 2) your out-of-pocket cost for your particular insurance plan, presuming it covers your medical test.
  5. Call your health insurance company. Immediately ask for the first name, last name and case reference number of the person providing you your cost answers. This will enhance accountability and service. Ask what your expected out-of-pocket expense will be at the imaging center of your choice given your insurance coverage. Remember, you still have to call the imaging study centers for their total charges, because if your claim is denied, that total charge becomes your bill!
  6. Take your prescription to the imaging study center. Ask for a copy of your image to be provided to you on a disk. This should be done at no charge to you. You can then let your doctor view the images from your disk.  Always get the disk back and keep it with your health care records.

Do NOT accept the reason that you must go to a certain hospital imaging center in order to have your results be part of an electronic medical record. Most imaging center results can easily be integrated into the electronic medical record (EMR), and, if not, then the report can be scanned into your EMR at the doctor’s office.

The most difficult thing to do for now is to not know the cost of your care – before you buy it – and figuring out how to deal with potential sticker shock.

Click below to learn how one woman was shocked to find out the difference in cost for an MRI when comparing a hospital to an independent imaging center.

Capitol Imaging Services is doctor trusted and patient preferred.