mri cost

The Cost of an MRI

What is an MRI?

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It uses magnetic fields to create images of your internal organs and can help your physician diagnose a number of different medical problems. An MRI can help give a more accurate diagnosis of cancer or dementia, as well as checking for more straightforward musculoskeletal issues.

While an MRI scanner can be a useful diagnostic tool, it can come with a hefty price tag. According to GoodRX, the average cost of an MRI can be anywhere from $400 to $12,000. That’s a bill that you don’t want to get in the mail. Medmo works with you to get the service you need at a price that’s right. Read on to learn about the costs associated with an MRI and how you can be sure you are paying the best price available.

How Much Does an MRI Cost?

         If you have been told that you need an MRI procedure, your first question is likely to be how much does it cost?

         The cost of an abdominal MRI can range from $347 to $4,142 in Lexington, KY. The same procedure might cost between $371 and $2,890 in New York City, or between $402 and $5,175 in Philadelphia. An MRI of the wrist at any of these locations could cost as little as $400. Or it could be $5,700 or more.

         As you can see, the costs of an MRI can vary greatly. MRI costs depend on one or more factors as shown below:

·         Closed MRI vs open MRI A closed MRI system is a more complex piece of machinery and so is more expensive, both to purchase and to maintain, as compared to an open MRI machine. The cost of an open MRI is usually less than that of a closed MRI.

·         What is being scanned? Different body parts will have different price tags attached, and a full-body MRI is likely to be the most expensive. The level of detailed examination needed to make a diagnosis can also be a factor. For example, an MRI of an elbow to check for ligament damage will not need as much detailed analysis as a brain scan.

·         Do you need an MRI with contrast? Your healthcare provider may order an MRI with contrast to obtain more detailed scans. An MRI with contrast will be more expensive than one without. This is because of the extra time and materials needed.

·         Do you need sedation? Patients who experience claustrophobia may require a sedative before an MRI. This will add to the final cost. Patients with claustrophobia are advised to seek an open MRI machine where possible for a more comfortable experience. Often, an open MRI has the added benefit of costing less than a closed MRI.

·         Your location Where you live can make a big difference in pricing. Which state do you live in? Are you in an area where there are lots of competing diagnostic imaging facilities?

·         Imaging Center or hospital In many locations, a specialized diagnostic imaging center will prove to be cheaper than a hospital. This is because they provide just one or two types of service and therefore can improve efficiency to limit costs.

·         Do you have insurance? Read on to learn about MRI costs based on your insurance coverage.

Does Insurance Cover MRI costs?

The type of health insurance you have can determine what costs are covered and how much you will need to pay out of pocket. While health insurance typically covers an MRI that is requested by your physician, you may still be limited as to which diagnostic imaging facilities you can use. In-network providers have contracted with your insurance company to set MRI costs. On the other hand, you may find yourself liable for most or all of the MRI costs associated with an out-of-network provider.

Even with insurance coverage and an in-network provider, you may still be liable for copays and/or a deductible. If you have a health savings account (HSA) or a flexible savings account (FSA), you may be able to use funds from your account for these outstanding charges.

Does Medicaid Cover MRI costs?

         An MRI scan is considered a diagnostic non-laboratory test. Therefore, Medicare Part B will cover 80 percent of the costs. You will still be responsible for the deductible. As of 2019, the Medicare deductible cost was $185.

         Note, that Part B will only cover the MRI costs if the scan has been ordered by your health care provider. You also need to make sure that your doctor and the MRI provider both accept Medicare. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, check with your insurance provider, since some plans cover 100 percent of costs.

What if you don’t have insurance?

         If you don’t have insurance, you may be expected to pay all MRI costs. Payment is often requested before or at the time of the procedure, and it could be thousands of dollars. Yikes!

Don’t panic.

While the expense of an MRI may deter you from having one, remember that there are always options for negotiating the MRI cost. Just as you would negotiate when buying a car or a house, so you can negotiate your medical expenses.

First, if you do not have insurance coverage, ask your provider how much your MRI will cost. This can avoid nasty surprises further down the line. It can also let you explore financial options. Don’t be afraid to shop around. Call any local hospitals and imaging centers to compare costs. Freestanding centers and urgent treatment centers are often more affordable than hospitals or an emergency room. Whatever you opt for, ask for a complete price breakdown to be sure you don’t face any unexpected extras.

Always ask if there are any assistance programs for low-income patients. If you pay in cash, can you get a discount? Does the facility offer a payment plan which will allow you to spread the cost over a period of several months?

How Medmo Can Help.

When your healthcare provider says that you need an MRI, they will usually ask their staff to schedule the appointment for you. This makes it easy for you. The downside is that they don’t shop around. Instead, they usually have one place that they refer all patients to. They’re looking after your health. Your wallet… not so much.

As we’ve explained above, calling around can save you money but not everyone has the time. That’s where Medmo comes in. Medmo helps you find the lowest MRI cost. Simply go to the website ( Once there, enter the type of scan you need, your zip code, and any insurance information. We’ll tell you the average price in your area and ask you to name a price that works for you. The Medmo team will call local providers and negotiate a price for you. The market rate for an MRI typically starts at $850. The Medmo rate starts at $350. That’s a significant saving. In fact, you’ll save both time and money by letting Medmo do the work for you. Whether or not you have insurance, Medmo will guarantee the lowest-possible out-of-pocket costs and the most convenient location for your MRI.

You wouldn’t buy a car without negotiating. Nor would you buy a house without doing your research and making an offer. Medical costs can be complicated but with Medmo to do the negotiating for you, you can focus on your health, getting the care you need at a fair price.

MRI Pricing ResourcesHealthcare Bluebook

Ready to get started?

Here’s what you’ll need to schedule an appointment

  • 1. Imaging referral / prescription

  • 2. Your contact information

  • 3. Insurance OR card information


Most recent posts

What Is MRI Contrast and When Do You Need It?

MRI scans provide incredibly detailed pictures of your bones, joints, muscles, and organs. If you need an MRI, you may have noticed that your prescription specifies "with contrast" or "without contrast." If so, you're probably wondering what contrast is used for, and whether it's safe.
Read more

How to Beat MRI Claustrophobia

No one likes being in tight spaces, but for some, close quarters can feel like a nightmare. If you experience intense claustrophobia but need an MRI, we recommend following these five tips before your scan to ensure your experience is comfortable – or, at a minimum, tolerable!
Read more

How To Find a Radiology Imaging Center

If you need a medical scan, like an MRI or CT scan, you'll want to find the right balance of price, quality, and convenience. In many cases, these three factors are related. So what's the best solution?
Read more