Should I Use My Insurance or Pay Cash

Medical Imaging – Should I Use My Insurance or Pay Cash?

Some Helpful Things to Consider

In the past year, 22% of Americans avoided some sort of medical care because of the cost. This includes annual check-ups, blood work, and imaging such as MRI, PET, or CT scans. Medical imaging can be expensive and because it requires more coordination between patients and providers, a lot of patients get caught up in the normal flow without realizing that they have options on how to cover their test. 

When thinking through options, it’s important to understand how your insurance works, specifically your insurance deductible.

A deductible is the amount of money insurance policy-holders need to pay before their insurance kicks in. For example, if your insurance policy has a $500 deductible, you would need to pay for $500 worth of medical expenses yourself, before your insurance kicks in. Insurance deductibles have been steadily increasing. It was reported that in 2016, half of all insurance policyholders faced a deductible of at least $1,000. Many people think that having insurance means that you are locked into using it, even if that ends up costing you more.  However, you don’t always have to use your insurance and in some cases, it makes sense not to. 

If your deductible is high, and you don’t believe you’re going to surpass it for the year, you can instead pay cash and lock in discounted rates for the same service with the same provider. For example, an imaging center may charge insurance $800 for an MRI vs. but have a negotiated cash rate of $350. If your remaining deductible is a lot higher than $800 or will be resetting soon, you might want to pay the cash price instead of the insurance negotiated rate that you’d have to cover in full.  At Medmo, we’ve already negotiated these low self-pay rates for you so you don’t have to.

What’s the catch? Besides figuring out if you’ll surpass your deductible for the year (which can sometimes be hard to predict), it’s pretty straightforward. Healthcare providers offer discounted self-pay cash rates since they get money upfront. It’s faster and they won’t have to deal with the costs of dealing with insurance payments. Something to consider, however, is that by paying cash, the money you spend will NOT count towards your deductible. 

There are still tons of tips and tricks out there to help you save on your required medical imaging. With screenings being more vital to Americans’ health than ever, we urge everyone to discuss routine imaging with their primary care physicians

To book a scan, visit us at 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.


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