A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a test that uses magnets and radio waves to produce three-dimensional images of patients’ bodies. Most people prefer to use MRI scans instead of x-rays to avoid harmful radiation. If given an MRI, doctors can help diagnose a disease or injury as well as monitor how patients are handling treatments. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), MRI’s are useful for looking at tissues and the nervous system.
What is the cost of an MRI?
Prices vary on an MRI scan, it all depends on the patients’ needs and which part of the body is being analyzed with resonance imaging. These different factors contribute to the cost of the scan, but in general, an MRI’s cost can range from as low as $400 upwards to $3500. The cost of a scan can be daunting, however with Medicare insurance, Medicare advantage plan, or Medicare supplements, it may help lessen the bill and avoid out-of-pocket costs.
Learn More: How Much Will I Pay For Medicare?
The cost of an MRI with Medicare
Most Medicare plans will help cover MRI scans. Depending on which Medicare plan a person has will determine if the insurance will cover a part of the cost or in full. As a result, out-of-pocket costs may vary depending on the plan. To find information if your Medicare insurance pays for scans, speak with your doctor to see if they accept Medicare and cover scans.
Medicare Part A
With Medicare Part A ( Part of Original Medicare) this plan covers home healthcare, nursing facility care, hospice care, and inpatient hospital care. If a doctor deems that it is medically necessary for a patient to receive an MRI scan, Medicare Part A may cover part of the cost.
Medicare Part B
Under Medicare Part B (Part of Original Medicare), this medical insurance plan may cover MRI scans if your doctor or healthcare provider orders it as-needed treatment for a patient’s medical problem. Medicare Part B may cover up to 80% of the scan and the rest can be paid for with deductibles or Medicare supplements (Medigap). For instance, if your MRI scan ends up being $3500, Medicare Part B will cover $2800 (80%) of the cost and the $700 (20%) leftover can be paid out-of-pocket or after deductibles.
Also, keep note that patients are responsible for numerous Medicare out-of-pocket costs, which includes the Part B deductible.
Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage)
Medicare Part C or Medicare Advantage may also cover MRI’s, but only under certain conditions. With the Medicare Advantage plan you still have to enroll with Parts A and B and choose a Medicare advantage plan and sign up with private insurance company. It’s important to consult with a doctor or your healthcare provider to find out if you qualify or for more information. Some advantages of Part C are that it may include health care services and prescription drugs for treatment. With the Medicare Advantage plan, you must pay your Part B premium.
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Medicare Part D
Furthermore, under Medicare Part D this plan covers prescription drugs, so if you need to take a prescription drug due to the MRI scan than Part D may cover that cost. For example, if the MRI caused anxiety and you have to take a prescription drug like Amitriptyline, than Medicare Part D may cover that bill.
Read more: Does Medicare Cover CBD Oil?
Medicare Supplement (Medigap)
Medicare Supplement (Medigap) is private insurance that patients may purchase to supplement Original Medicare. In addition, with this plan they can cover 80 percent of the exam costs. The remaining 20 percent is out-of-pocket costs unless the patient has already met their yearly deductible.
AGENT TIPMedigap plans can greatly reduce and sometimes eliminate your out-of-pocket costs when it comes to Medicare.
What to expect during an MRI
During an MRI scan, you must lay down on a flatbed, and depending on which part of the body is getting scanned, the patient may be moved into the MRI scanner head or feet first. Next, the radiologist operating the MRI will advise users to lie very still so body movements don’t result in blurry images. Once the patient goes through the tube-like machine, it will be scanning the inside of the body with the use of strong magnets and radio waves. The duration of the test usually lasts 15-90 minutes depending on which part of the body is being analyzed.
Why would you need an MRI?
An MRI is a great tool for imaging different parts of your body, especially sections that are less bony and contain more soft tissues. Here is a list of areas and diagnoses a scan can help identify.
MRI for bones and joints
- Joint abnormalities
- Disk abnormalities
- Tumors on soft tissues and bones
- Bone infections
MRI for brain and spinal cord
- Brain injury
- Eye disorders
- Multiple sclerosis
MRI for the heart and blood vessels
- Analyze the size and condition of the heart’s chambers
- Damage from heart attacks or heart disease
- Gage thickness and movement of walls of the heart
- Problems in the aorta
- Blockage or inflammation in blood vessels
Risk of MRI’s
It is advised that those who have metal objects inside their body not use an MRI machine due to the powerful magnetic resonance. This is due to the fact that metal objects can blur MRI images and may cause malfunctions to heart pacers.
In order to stay safe, make sure the device is MRI safe. If not, it’s best not to utilize an MRI and opt for an X-ray or CT scan instead.
Don’t use an MRI if you have any of these items in your body:
- Metal clips
- Implanted drug infusion pumps
- Implanted nerve stimulators
- Artificial heart valves
- Metallic joint prosthesis
- Cochlear implants
- Any type of metal fragment
According to NerdWallet the average cost of a scan out of pocket is around $2600. However, that price depends on many factors, for instance the geographical location of where you get the scan, the facility, and the particular scan you receive. With these factors in mind the scan could either cost less or more than the average.
An MRI scan and CT scan are both very useful tools to find out what could be going on inside your body. Both have varying factors of danger, so depending on your situation one might be safer than the other. For instance, a CT scan uses radiation, while the MRI uses very strong magnets. If you have any metal objects in your body, you should not use an MRI. However, MRI’s provide clearer imaging, so if you don’t have metal objects, and are eligible to use an MRI scan, it is definitely safer and much preferred.
Through the help of Medicare insurance the cost of MRI scans greatly reduces. Consult with your doctor or healthcare provider to see if you qualify to get coverage through your Medicare coverage plan. You don’t have to pay out-of-pocket because Medicare has you covered when it comes to getting MRI scans.
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