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CostHelper > Health & Personal Care  > Tests, X-Rays & Imaging > Brain MRI

Brain MRI Cost


How Much Does a Brain MRI Cost?

 
average costWith Health Insurance: $20-$100+ Copayhigh costWithout Health Insurance: $1,000-$5,000
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A brain (or head) MRI[1] is an imaging test that uses powerful magnets, radio waves, and a computer to create detailed images of the brain and surrounding nerve tissues. It may be used to detect diseases and disorders that affect the brain, or to clarify results from other tests, such as an X-ray or CT scan. Brain MRIs are non invasive and do not use radiation.

Typical costs:

  • A head MRI typically costs about $1,000 -$5,000, depending on complexity of the condition being monitored, whether the procedure is performed in a hospital or a physician's office, and a patient's geographical location. For example, in New Hampshire hospitals[2] the scan typically costs about $2,772 -$5,501. At Pacific Alliance Medical Center in Los Angeles, a brain MRI without contrast (a special dye delivered by IV) costs $4,166.
  • The MRI, when deemed medically necessary, is typically covered by health insurance plans. If deductibles are met, typical out-of-pocket costs for insured patients consist of a copay for the doctor's visit and possibly a copay for the MRI. For example, under a First CarolinaCare[3] copay plan, the visit copay would be $20 and the MRI copay $100.
Related articles: CT Scan, X-Ray, Spinal MRI, MRI, Health Insurance

What should be included:
  • Prior to the scan, the patient will need to remove any jewelry or clothing containing metal. Then, the patient will be asked to lie on a moveable table that slides into a tunnel surrounded by a magnet, where radio waves are broadcast to create a three-dimensional image of the body.
  • The scan typically lasts 30-60 minutes, but may take longer. Because of the time and positioning required, patients should have the ability to lie flat for that time.
  • Patients can expect to hear loud noises from the machine, but many MRI departments offer earplugs to block the sounds.
  • RadiologyInfo.org offers a detailed overview[4] of the imaging procedure.
Additional costs:
  • About one in 20 patients feel claustrophobic or anxious inside a traditional MRI machine and require a mild sedative such as propofol (Diprivan)[5] , which can cost about $125-$400.
  • An estimated 5%-10% of patients need a contrast solution, or special dye injected into the body, to further enhance the scan. The solution typically costs about $100-$300 extra.
Discounts:
  • Some diagnostic imaging centers offer discounted prices of about $380-$560, depending on geographic location. These apply to patients who pay cash or use credit cards and do not use health insurance. For example, the imaging center MRI Solutions[6] in Indianapolis offers an MRI of any one region of the body for a flat fee of $450.
Shopping for a brain mri:
  • The American College of Radiology has a search tool[7] on its website to help patients find accredited hospitals, clinics or health centers in their area that perform MRIs.
Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
 
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What People Are Paying - Recent Comments
Pediatric MRI with sedation and contrast
Amount: $3,300.00 not covered by insurance
Posted by: NCMommy in Charlotte, NC.Posted: October 29th, 2016 07:10AM
Insurance Carrier: CignaProvider: Levine Children's
My insurance paid 22k and we were billed an additional $3300 for our daughter's MRI. This seems absolutely insane to me that it would cost north of 25k. Is this normal????
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go to privet company to get an MRI scan
Amount: $600.00 not covered by insurance
Posted by: a user in San Diego, CA.Posted: July 6th, 2012 08:07PM
getting a hospital MRI will cost you a lot more money. Always talk to your doctor first. My neurologist said that the quality is the same as a MRI scan in the hospital. Ask what the power of the MRI machine is (e.g. it might be 1.5 Tesla, or 3 Tesla, etc.) Regents MRI was the company I want to every to continually monitor my brain. $600.
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External Resources:
  1.  www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003791.htm
  2.  www.nhhealthcost.org/uninsuredWizardUserInput.aspx?procedure=16&procedureName=MRI%20-%2...
  3.  www.firstcarolinacare.com/brokers/copay_deductible.htm
  4.  www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=headmr
  5.  www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/propofol
  6.  www.indymri.com/
  7.  www.acr.org/Quality-Safety/Accreditation/Accredited-Facility-Search
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