Has your doctor recommended an MRI to help diagnose an illness or injury? Here's some helpful information about MRI costs and coverage from Medicare.gov. MRI scans use strong magnetic fields and radio waves to create a detailed view of the body’s organs, muscles, soft tissues and structures. This may help doctors diagnose conditions that affect those areas.

Medicare Part B may cover 80% of the cost for a medically required magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan ordered by a doctor. However, both the doctor and the facility performing the scan must accept Medicare patients.

Let’s look at the standards Medicare uses to determine coverage for MRI scans, the typical cost of an MRI scan and how Medicare Advantage (MA) plans may help cover MRI costs.

When does Medicare cover MRI scans?

Medicare typically covers MRI scans when your doctor determines that it’s medically required to reach a diagnosis. MRI scans are classified as “diagnostic non-laboratory tests” under Medicare Part B.

To be sure that your MRI scan is covered, talk with your doctor about whether the MRI is medically necessary and ask them to be sure to refer you to an MRI facility that accepts Medicare.

Medicare Advantage plans, purchased through private insurers like Humana, are required by law to provide at minimum all of the benefits provided by Original Medicare Part A and Part B. If you’ve opted for an MA plan, contact your plan provider to confirm that your MRI scan will be covered.

How much does an MRI scan cost with Medicare?

You can visit Medicare.gov to find the average out-of-pocket cost of many common medical procedures, like an MRI scan. A single MRI scan, whether performed at an inpatient or outpatient facility, averages between $59 and $95 out-of-pocket1 after you pay your deductible and Medicare Part B’s 80% coverage kicks in.

The actual cost of an MRI scan may change depending on the following factors:

  • MRI facility. Outpatient surgical or imaging centers may offer lower MRI costs than inpatient hospital facilities.
  • In-network or out-of-network. If have a Medicare Advantage plan that features provider networks, you’ll save more when you use an in-network facility.
  • Medical need. The price of your scan may change depending on your medical need. Some scans will require multiple views, longer imaging or additional visits, which can raise the cost.
  • Insurance status. If you have active Medicare coverage, you can expect Medicare Part B to provide coverage for your MRI scan. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, check with your plan provider to see if you may be able to reduce your costs beyond what Original Medicare Part B will cover for MRI scans.
  • Contrast dye. The use of a contrast dye during your MRI scan can add to the cost of the procedure.

When does Medicare not cover an MRI scan?

MRI scans are not covered under Medicare if there is no prior authorization from a doctor or if the order was not received from your healthcare provider.

Additionally, if the facility providing the MRI scan does not accept Medicare, the service will not be covered. It’s important to confirm that the facility you visit accepts Medicare so you can avoid additional out-of-pocket costs.

Can Medicare Advantage plans cover MRI costs?

All Medicare Advantage plans are required by law to provide all of the benefits offered by Original Medicare Part A and Part B. In addition, unlike Original Medicare, all Medicare Advantage plans include an annual maximum for your out-of-pocket costs. Once you’ve reached that maximum out-of-pocket limit, you’ll pay nothing for in-network covered services for the rest of your plan year. (In 2022, the maximum is $7,550, but many plans choose to offer lower limits.)

Medicare Advantage plans may also help with arranging and paying for transportation costs to an MRI scanning facility.

To learn more, speak to one of our Medicare Advantage specialists.

Humana answers your Medicare questions

Sources

  1. “Magnetic resonance (eg, proton) imaging, brain (including brain stem); without contrast material, followed by contrast material(s) and further sequences,” Medicare.gov, last accessed May 6, 2022, https://www.medicare.gov/procedure-price-lookup/cost/70553/.

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