Your doctor orders an MRI scan to get to the bottom of a medical issue. That sounds like a great idea until you find out that the $1,200 MRI charge will come directly out of your pocket. This is because you have a high-deductible health plan (HDHP).
Unfortunately, this situation occurs a lot and forces many patients to choose between overpaying for a necessary medical scan or putting their health at risk by not getting the scan at all. To avoid having to compromise your health or your wallet, let’s learn a little bit about what a high-deductible health plan is and how to save money on medical imaging if you have one.
What is a High-Deductible Health Plan?
A high-deductible health plan (HDHP) is a health insurance plan with a high minimum deductible for medical expenses but a low premium cost. A deductible is how much you must pay for your health services before insurance takes over the bill. A premium is a monthly amount you pay for your health insurance, like a subscription fee. Even if you don’t have any medical expenses for the month, you need to pay your monthly premium. Many people choose an HDHP over other insurance options because the premium cost is typically lower than other types of insurance plans. But because the upfront cost is low, there is a high deductible you must pay before coverage kicks in. An HDHP typically requires the insured to pay a higher annual deductible than a traditional health plan, which often changes yearly.
For people who rarely use medical services, high-deductible insurance plans make a lot of sense, especially if you’re young, seemingly healthy, or in a tough financial spot. However, if you haven’t met your deductible or are about to reset, an HDHP can make it hard to afford medical services like MRIs or CT scans.
How to Afford Scans with a High-Deductible Health Plan
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, patients pay an average of $2,295 before insurance kicks in, with families paying up to $4,364 on average. Since one imaging scan can easily cost that much, patients are given another option: use insurance or pay cash. This is also known as self-pay or cash pay.
To avoid going through the bureaucracies of insurance, many imaging centers charge patients lower rates if they pay directly or, even better, with cash.
There are documented cases where patients with high-deductible plans get an insurer-negotiated discount when they pay for a CT scan via their coverage, but if they call the same hospital or imaging center and ask for the out-of-pocket cash price, they end up saving more than 50% off of the fee offered via their insurance. It pays to check.
Some insurance companies will even count cash payments towards your deductible, but it varies between companies and policies. Request an itemized bill from your doctor’s office and submit that to your insurance company, asking whether or not your payment can be applied to your deductible. Medmo offers up to 80% off select scans through exclusive cash pay discounts.
Talk to your insurance carrier before proceeding with a specific payment option. Each company and policy is different, and your best course of action may also change based on your personal medical needs.
To book a scan, visit us at Medmo.com. Medmo helps people schedule radiology imaging tests – such as MRI, CT scans, PET, and more – at nearby accredited centers and identify the payment solution that works best for them.