Local physicians warn that kids in school aren’t the only ones that should be doing their homework. In fact, taking a few extra minutes to price compare for some medical services could save patients time and money. Dr. Michael Garovich, President of Imaging Specialists, explains, “It is worth the time and effort to shop around when it comes to imaging services. Prices differ depending on the facility a patient chooses for their imaging needs.”
Pricing for imaging services like x-rays, ultrasounds, mammograms, CT’s and MRI’s can vary hundreds or even thousands of dollars depending on the facility.
This time of year many patients find themselves at the beginning of an insurance coverage plan where the deductible is not yet met. Another point to remember for those insured is to inquire about the contracted rate. States Dr. Garovich, “High deductible plan patients definitely want to do their homework. Contracted rates can vary greatly. This can translate to savings that directly benefit the patient.” Overall, Dr. Garovich says it is important to remember that it is the patient’s right to choose where to receive their medical needs. “The doctors who own our imaging center made a choice to offer low prices and high end technology. We live here and answer to patients that are our neighbors, friends and family.”
Transparency is an increasingly important term. Similar to a window that is transparent, a patient should be able to see in to a facility’s pricing just as easily. Patients often don’t realize that facilities that are not privately owned have more than one fee that will be charged. For example, hospitals have multiple charges, or “hidden” fees, in addition to the institution’s fee for the actual exam. Watch out for hidden fees and always ask for the “combined” charges. “We make it easy to call and just ask what an exam will cost. It’s as simple as that to know what to expect,” says Vicki Richter, Director of Imaging Specialists. “It makes a difference what insurance you have, where you are with your individual deductible, or if you are a self pay patient. Either way, we find the answer for patients so there are no surprises following the exam. The surprise usually happens when the patient realizes how much lower our prices are than the hospital’s.”
There are a few simple steps to follow when price comparing. First, identify a few locations that provide the services needed. Some are free standing and some are affiliated with hospitals. Second, it is important to ask if the facility provides one bill. Dr. Garovich explains, “A single bill generally translates to lower cost. All of the services are on one bill as opposed to several bills received in the mail weeks after the service was provided.” Check the facility credentials. For imaging centers, look for ACR accreditations. Know the type of technology that is important to you. Do you want your mammography to be digital, supported by computer aided detection, and receive your results right away? Do you want your MRI to have a wide bore to reduce claustrophobia? It all amounts to doing your homework. Call us if we can help at 843-881-4020.