The Mystery of Radiology

HBI Blog / The Mystery of Radiology

Radiology is a mysterious part of the healthcare landscape. Most people understand the most basic idea, to capture images inside the body so as to avoid cutting it open in order to diagnose problems and disease. However, such important facts 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 to the healthcare consumer.

When you are a self-pay patient, a cash patient or have a high deductible, 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 (high deductible or self-pay).

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?

Self-pay patients and cash patients or insurance customers with high deductibles often question if Radiology procedures 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 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 companies as well as bills that do not get paid by the lower income patients as they are not allowed to turn away from their emergency rooms.

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 or cash Radiologist is the ideal solution for anyone that wants or needs to pay out of pocket for any Radiological needs. 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.
Join us today, and stop overpaying for your medical services. Other people’s bills are not your responsibility. And don’t forget to check out our YouTube video for an explanation of all those letters in the Radiology department!

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