Where to Get a Mammogram

Where to Get a Mammogram

If you’re over 40 or have significant risk factors for breast cancer, you have probably had or recommended to have a mammogram. 

Mammograms can be expensive, with the average cost ranging from about $300 to $500. While many programs across the country serve to provide free or low-cost breast cancer screenings for people who meet the criteria, the cost of getting this life saving diagnostic scan still sometimes falls on the patient. 

For example, you may be eligible for the CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) if you meet these qualifications: 

  • You have no insurance, or your insurance does not cover screening exams
  • Your yearly income is at or below 250% of the federal poverty level
  • You are between 40 and 64 years of age for breast cancer screening
  • You are between 21 and 64 years of age for cervical cancer screening

In addition, the Affordable Care Act requires that health plans fully cover the cost of a screening mammogram every one or two years for women over 40. However, if you aren’t insured, are underinsured, or don’t meet the criteria for coverage, that doesn’t mean you need to skip your annual mammogram. 

Where Are Mammograms Performed? 

Since breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer (below skin) in women, mammography screenings are available in multiple healthcare location types. 

Gynecology office

Cancer screening is a normal part of a woman’s appointment with their gynecologist. Your gynecologist is expected to perform a breast exam and Pap smear during your annual visit. These help to test for breast cancer and cervical cancer.  

During a breast exam, your gynecologist will feel for lumps or enlarged lymph nodes and check for skin changes that can indicate breast cancer. Some gynecological centers will have in-house mammograms, breast MRI, and fast breast MRI machines for furthering testing. Some do not but will refer you to a hospital/imaging center to get them done if deemed necessary.

Hospitals

It is reasonable to expect hospitals with a gynecology or imaging/radiology department to offer mammography and other breast cancer screening services. This is often standard, especially since doctors and technicians in these hospitals have a lot of experience with treating and tracking the progression of breast cancer. The drawback of going to a hospital for imaging scans is the heavy price tag. Imaging scans can cost up to 80% more at a hospital than they would at a freestanding imaging center. Hospitals are also a lot stricter about payment options and will have add-on fees that are difficult to interpret or dispute.

Imaging Centers

While most patients are familiar with hospitals, through personal experience or what is portrayed on TV and in movies, many don’t know as much about outpatient imaging centers. Outpatient imaging centers offer more relaxed, personalized service than hospitals and can offer many other liberties. These are your local freestanding doctor’s offices that are native to your city and have no ties to the hospital. They usually have a small staff which makes for a more comfortable environment for people who need multiple scans or follow-ups. 

Standard imaging centers will usually offer mammography and other breast cancer screening services. 

How to Find Good Imaging Centers?

Doctors recommend choosing an accredited center based on the reputation of the radiologists and the quality of the equipment — the location should be secondary. In the United States, you should have mammography only at a facility accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR) — quality is critical. ACR guidelines set standards for doctors who read the films, technicians, reports, mammography machines, and film-developing materials. Accreditation by the ACR means that the radiologists and technicians are specially trained and certified in mammography and that the equipment meets standards and is inspected regularly.

To find accredited imaging centers, you can look up imaging centers in your area online, but may have to do further research on your own on these individual centers and facilities. If you are planning on using your insurance, it is important to verify with the center that they are an in-network facility. Your insurance can cover very little or none of your exam cost if your scan is done somewhere they are not affiliated with which is why most major insurance companies and Medicare/Medicaid allow you to look up in-network doctors and practices on their websites or on the phone. 

An easier option is to book your mammogram at Medmo.com. Medmo works to schedule your mammogram at imaging centersbased on the location and availability you set.Once we have matched you with a center that fits your criteria and you have uploaded a referral from your doctor, our Care Team will work with you or your doctor’s office on any further details. We will also determine whether a prior authorization from your health insurance provider is required, should you choose to use insurance. 

As a screening test, mammograms are designed for people who are asymptomatic (do not have any signs or symptoms of breast cancer). For those who are symptomatic, they’re considered a diagnostic test and insurance companies aren’t required to pay the full cost of them. Regardless of the reason, if you are thinking of avoiding a mammogram because of its price tag or if you’re unsure of where to receive one, we highly consider you to reconsider. Breast cancer is more challenging (and much more expensive) to treat when tumors are more advanced. Medmo can help you find the resources you need.

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. 

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