MRIs — we've all heard of them. When your doctor wants to take a look at you beyond what their eyes, x-rays and ultrasounds can see, the MRI is usually what they go to first.
But MRI waitlist times have started to increase in Canada. More and more, people are being forced to spend an excessive amount of time without care, simply because of the influx of people who need it. While it's nice that Canada has universal healthcare, this is one of its drawbacks, unless of course you consult with a private clinic.
This situation has led to many people researching private MRI costs and wondering if it wouldn't be better for them to simply pay out of pocket for a private MRI. This article will walk you through all you need to know about price MRI's.
What Is an MRI?
An MRI (short for magnetic resource imaging) is a test that takes a picture of the inside of your body. It does this by making use of radio waves and magnets. You can get a general MRI of your body, or have it more localized to specific parts.
MRIs are more useful than X-rays, which just look at bones. By getting a good view of soft tissue and nerves, an MRI can help diagnose an injury or a disease. They're good for diagnosing cancer, strokes, eye problems, and heart disease.
Unlike an x-ray, which is quick and can be just placed over the body, an MRI is very large and loud and looks a bit like a contraption from a science fiction movie. People's whole bodies are put into the MRI machine.
Because of the intimidating nature of MRIs, most operators have a system by which patients can get themselves out if they start to get too frightened or claustrophobic.
CT scans look similar to MRIs. However, a CT scan is a more advanced X-ray machine. They're more widely available, cost less, and are more widely used.
CT scans do not look at soft tissue, so they should not be used in place of an MRI.
MRIs are considered dangerous for pregnant women, people with cochlear implants, people with pacemakers, and people with metal coils. Pregnant women are not advised to get MRIs unless they are dire.
Since the MRI machines use magnets, the process does not work with metal from piercings, jewelry, drug pumps, pins, and screws. If you can take these things off, the doctor will ask you too. If you cannot, you may need to find a different option.
People with tattoos are also at risk since certain dyes contain metal.
MRIs generally last between fifteen minutes and ninety minutes. They're a painless procedure. The only thing one really needs to worry about is claustrophobia.
How Much Does an MRI Machine Cost?
MRI machines are large, expensive pieces of equipment. This is one of the reasons why the waitlist times are so long (it's also one of the reasons why private MRIs are pricey). When a large number of people need to use a small amount of equipment, there are going to be issues.
An entry-level MRI machine costs between two hundred fifty thousand and three hundred thousand dollars. Already, even at the most basic level, we're dealing with an extremely high amount of money.
Newer MRI machines with more features cost anywhere between three hundred twenty-five thousand dollars and five hundred thousand dollars. Top-of-the-line MRIs cost over five hundred thousand dollars.
When Are MRI’s Extremely Important?
While MRIs can always be useful in determining what's going on inside someone's body, there are some situations when they're extremely important. It's important to know if your case qualifies as "extremely important", so you don't waste your money on booking a private MRI when you can just get a CT scan.
MRIs are extremely important when it comes to any condition that deals with internal organs. MRIs are able to get three-dimensional images, so you're not going to want to pass them over for more conventional forms of imaging. They're also extremely important for anything involving the nerves, the brain, and situations involving tumours.
MRIs are also very important for diseased tissue. The structures of your body are held together by very small tissues. Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, affect these tissues.
Diseased tissue means that the tissue's collagen and elastin are inflamed. This leads to the proteins and the body parts the tissue is connected to experiencing harm.
MRIs can detect when tissue is diseased. If you or your doctor think you have a condition wherein you have diseased tissue, you must get an MRI for your health.
Are MRI’s Dangerous?
While MRIs are scary, they are not dangerous. There are no known side effects to an MRI scan. Once again, they merely use radio frequencies and magnets to take an image of the inside of your body; they don't intrude on your body in any way.
In fact, they're a lot safer than x-ray's, which have been linked to cancer in the long term.
The only real way MRIs can be dangerous is indirect. If metal is worn inside the machine, there can be extremely negative effects. Make sure you always listen to your doctor and take off anything you need to take off.
If you experience extreme anxiety and claustrophobic reactions, your doctor might give you mild anesthesia to calm you down. You need to let the doctor know if you're at all allergic to anesthesia. Allergies to medicines are serious and need to be communicated.
Someone under the effects of sedation might also need to arrange for a friend or family member to come to pick them up from the hospital. Operating a vehicle while under the effects of any sedative is extremely dangerous.
Occasionally, someone will report ringing in the ear from the sound of the MRI. Talk to your doctor, and see if wearing foam earplugs could be an option.
Public and Private MRI Cost
Now it's time to finally get down to business and talk about just how much it's going to run you to get a private MRI. Public MRIs are publicly funded, so they're not going to cost as much money.
A public brain MRI done with insurance can cost as little as $300. Paying with your own money can cost as much as $2,000 dollars. The cost will depend largely on your deductibility.
A functional MRI (or fMRI) achieves many of the same effects of an MRI but with a different process. Instead of scanning anatomical structures, fMRI's scan metabolic processes. They serve "functionally" the same purpose as MRI's, without the form.
Generally, MRIs are cheaper. They'll cost you around $1,000 dollars if you pay out of pocket. You can cut that cost about in half if you get your MRI publicly
Cardiac MRIs are extremely important in determining heart conditions. They're much more thorough than echocardiograms. Cardiac MRIs generally cost a little more ranging between $1,000 and $5,000 dollars.
(It's important to note that the specialized treatment a physician accounts for some of the cost of an MRI. If you receive an anesthetic, this will also run you around $100-$200 dollars.)
Spine MRIs vary in their cost depending on which part of the spine they focus on. While the spine is connected, it's an extremely long part of the body, broken up into the cervical, lumbar, and thoracic spine.
The cervical spine (the neck) comes with the widest range of prices. Depending on the circumstance, they can cost anywhere between $650 and $3,000 dollars. This is due to the gap between the low surface area of the cervical spine and the extreme importance it has on your health.
Thoracic and lumbar spine MRIs cost similar prices but generally cap at around $2,000.
Many people choose to get shoulder MRIs since they're one of the most important parts of the body when it comes to physical health. The shoulder supports a lot of your lifting. There's not much you can do when you have a damaged shoulder.
Shoulder MRIs come with the widest range of prices, costing anywhere between $225 and $6,000.
How Can Having Private Insurance Offset these costs?
Private insurance is a smart decision for anyone. It can offset the cost of an MRI by covering the gap between what the government pays and what you pay
If you're getting a private MRI, insurance is the only thing helping you pay the private MRI cost.
At Insurdinary, we believe that everyone should have their choice of insurance providers. Get a quote with us today, and learn which insurance provider is best for you.
The world of MRIs is a strange, complicated, and expensive one. Thankfully, you don't need to worry about paying too much with insurance coverage.