Does Medicare Cover MRI Scans?

Jory Cross by Jory Cross | Licensed since 2012
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This article was updated on: 10/20/2018

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If you’re wondering how much an MRI costs for you as a Medicare beneficiary, the answer is that it depends on your situation. However, Medicare may cover your MRI scan; read below to learn about these scans and what portion of the costs you can expect to pay.

What is an MRI?

Doctors use magnetic resonance imaging scans, better known as MRIs, to diagnose a variety of medical conditions. An MRI scan uses radio waves and powerful magnetic fields to create a detailed image that can be used to determine the severity of injuries, the presence of abnormal tissue or of foreign matter inside the body, or the health of various organs and blood vessels, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

During an MRI scan, the scanner sends an electrical current to create a temporary magnetic field inside your body, according to the FDA. A transmitter sends and receives radio waves to create an image of the part of your body involved in the scan. Sometimes you’re given intravenous drugs to increase the contrast of the image. The procedure generally takes anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and a half.

Medicare Part B insurance typically covers medically necessary MRI scans when your Medicare-assigned doctor orders them for you. MRIs may be subject to copayments and deductibles. Medicare Part B insurance generally covers 80 percent of the allowable charges. If your doctor orders an MRI scan as part of your inpatient hospital treatment, Medicare Part A may cover the scan, but your Part A deductible may apply.

Medicare coverage for MRIs under different types of Medicare insurance

Coverage for MRIs is the same as described above under a Medicare Advantage plan, as these plans are required to provide the same coverage available through Original Medicare, Part A and Part B (except for hospice care, which Medicare Part A still covers). Medicare Advantage plans are offered through private companies that contract with Medicare to provide your Part A and Part B coverage. Copayments, coinsurance, premiums, and deductibles may vary among plans, and Medicare Advantage plans may offer added services or options for beneficiaries, such as prescription drug, routine dental, and routine vision coverage. With a Medicare Advantage plan, you’re still in the Medicare program and continue paying your Medicare Part B premium, along with any plan premium.

If you decide to stay with Original Medicare, another option you may have is to sign up for a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan to help pay for Original Medicare’s out-of-pocket costs. Different Medigap plans pay for different amounts of those costs, such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.

If you want to get a more specific estimate of just how much your MRI will cost you, ask your doctor’s office staff, since they’ll know more details about your particular situation.

Would you like to learn more about your Medicare coverage options? That’s where we can help you. You can set up a call with me, or ask me to send you information by email, by clicking on the links below. Want to explore the Medicare plan options in your area on your own first? Just click the Find Plans button on this page.

This website and its contents are for informational purposes only. Nothing on this website should ever be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult with your medical provider regarding diagnosis or treatment for a health condition, including decisions about the correct medication for your condition, as well as prior to undertaking any specific exercise or dietary routine.

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