Price Variations in Diagnostic Scans

When it comes to scans, it’s wise to ask for the price.

The price of a CT scan can vary by more than $900! While diagnostic radiologists have the largest price variations among doctors, it’s interesting that primary care physicians, like internists, and non-surgical specialists, have larger price variations than surgeons.

chest x ray 300x247 Price Variations in Diagnostic Scans Photo

How much will your next chest x-ray cost?

Vitals’ Book of Business found that people who shopped for CT scans saved $501.91, on average. People who shopped for MRIs saved $779.62, on average.

Free standing imaging centers often provide lower-cost scans than hospitals. A recent Planet Money episode found the images from these centers are usually similar quality, if not better.

Considering there are more than 80 million CT scans performed each year and another 30 million MRIs, the savings add up. Shopping for these services could add up to $63 billion in savings from overpriced scans.

Check out some of the price variations in diagnostic scans we found in the recently released Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data.

CT Head/Brain w/o dye

Max Average Min Average Difference
Diagnostic Radiology $1,059.68 $119.09 $940.59
Internal Medicine $723.19 $366.79 $356.40
Neurology $618.88 $331.23 $287.65
Neurosurgery $582.30 $363.61 $218.69
Interventional Radiology $562.43 $359.09 $203.34

Chest X-Ray

Max Average Min Average Difference
Diagnostic Radiology $211.72 $24.28 $187.44
Internal Medicine $200.41 $31.97 $168.44
Pulmonary Disease $140.51 $37.52 $102.99
General Practice $136.05 $43.46 $92.59
Cardiology $110.60 $53.52 $57.08
Interventional Radiology $94.52 $46.93 $47.59
Thoracic Surgeon $73.06 $65.63 $7.43

 

Additional reporting by Ali Cirik