Radiology is an incredible part of the healthcare. Most people understand the most basic idea, to capture images inside the body to avoid cutting it open in order to diagnose problems and disease.
However, facts such as how it works, when it is really needed, how it is read, and why it seems to be so expensive are all still vast blank areas for the healthcare consumer.
When you have an insurance plan with high-deductible, or limited radiology coverage, those blank areas start to get costly. Especially, if you have no understanding of the underlying concepts. Having a basic understanding of the ideas behind radiology is of utmost importance when the money is coming out of your pocket.
What is Radiology?
Radiology is a medical specialty that uses various technologies to take Images inside the body. It is used in the diagnosis, and even treatment, of many different types of medical problems and diseases. It is one of the most important parts of understanding what is really wrong with a patient and how best to start or continue treatment.
Radiology includes X-ray, positron emission tomography (PET scan), ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT scan). New technology and improvements on current technologies are fairly constant in Radiology. New improvements could also mean there is the possibility for fairly constant rising costs in order to keep up with the technology.
How Does It Work?
While each of the technologies in Radiology is extremely complex, the basic idea is actually fairly easy to understand. The patient is positioned in a machine, their body or parts of their body are subjected to an emission, such as X-rays or magnetic fields, the body and the emission interact in some way, and the machine records an image of that interaction.
So, Radiology is very much like having a photograph taken, only instead of taking a picture of how the outside of the body reacts to the light around it, it takes a picture how the inside of the body reacts to the emissions.
As with all medical procedures, there are risks, but in the case of radiology, the risks are exceptionally rare. However, in no way do the risks outweigh the benefits of getting a correct diagnosis without surgery – with the rare exception of a very few patients that have other issues that may negatively interact with the emissions.
When is Radiology really needed?
Most people, especially patients with high deductible insurance plans, often question if Radiology screenings are really needed. After all, these procedures can be extremely costly, especially if your doctor refers you to a hospital that often charges hundreds of dollars more than an in-house or independent Radiologist would cost.
Radiology is one of the best diagnostic tools available to any branch of medicine today. Radiological procedures are also one of the least costly ways to find out what is happening inside of your body. The only other real option that offers equal results is surgery, which leaves the patient in pain and possibly with a long hospital stay. The downtime for healing from a surgery alone often costs more to the patient in lost work time and medication than even the highest costs of hospital radiological procedures.
Does Radiology really have to cost so much?
Many factors decide what any Radiological procedure costs. One of the biggest deciding factors, however, is whether or not you go to a hospital for your procedure. Hospitals often have much higher prices for everything. This is because hospitals use those higher prices to cover the costs of non-payment or under-payment by insurance and other reasons for lost revenues such as revenue sent to collections or written off for non-collection.
Independent Radiology offices, on the other hand, do not have most of these costs to factor into their balance sheets and often charge hundreds of dollars less than the hospitals can afford to charge. Yes, the insurance company may still underpay them, but they are not trying to make up for the loss of pay across multiple departments. Furthermore, making up for emergency room non-payment accounts for a great deal of higher prices and overcharging in other areas to make up the difference.
Complex Tech, Simple Solutions
Finding an independent Radiology center that accept out of pocket (cash/credit) without having to use your insurance, if you have a high deductible, can be a great solution to avoid the high costs associated with insurance plans. While a hospital averages around $1,200 for a no contrast MRI, a quick search on HBI quickly finds a cash imaging center that will happily do the same procedure for only $325.
Search for MRI centers near you on HBI., and stop overpaying for your radiology services. Other people’s bills are not your responsibility.