Healthcare Cost

How Much Does an MRI Cost Without Insurance in 2022?

Ashley Brooks
Ashley Brooks20 Sep 2022

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can cost between $375 to $2,850 due to several varying costs of the procedure. MRI procedures can be done for nearly every body part to help diagnose issues you may be experiencing, from chronic conditions to traumatic events. The price of an MRI can range depending on location, facility, body part, and insurance status. 

Many insurance companies often do not cover MRI unless you have an order from a medical provider and have hit your annual deductible. It is wise to shop for the lowest-price MRI scan if you have insurance but yet to hit your deductible this year.

The Cost of an MRI 

The cost of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) typically ranges between $375 to $2,850 in the United States, while the national average is $1,325. Below you can find the average costs compared to national averages and the overall target fair price. 

  • National Average: $1,325
  • National Range: $375-$2,850
  • Target Fair Price: $750

The Cost of an MRI by City

Below is a breakdown of the typical range of an endoscopy procedure by city within the United States

LocationCost without insurance
Atlanta, GA$550 - $1,400
Chicago, IL$575 - $1,500
Dallas, TX$500 - $1,300
Houston, TX$525 - $1,400
Miami, FL$550 - $1,450
Los Angeles, CA$460 - $1,200
Philadelphia, PA$575 - $1,500
Phoenix, AZ$525 - $1,350
New York, NY$625 - $1,600
Washington, DC$550 - $1,400

Source: New Choice Health

The National Average of the Cost of an MRI by Procedure

The cost of an MRI varies by city and where the MRI is taking place on the body. Below is a comparison of the national averages of MRI by procedure. 

ProcedurePrice Range
General MRI$400 - $5,700
Brain MRI$1,600 - $8,400
Neck MRI$500 - $11,800
Chest MRI$500 - $7,900
Breast MRI$500 - $10,300
Abdominal MRI$1,600 - $7,600
Cervical Spine MRI$1,400 - $7,600
Pelvic MRI$500 - $7,900
Upper Extremity MRI (shoulder, arm, wrist, hand)$1,050 - $7,000
Lower Extremity MRI (foot, ankle, leg, hip)$975 - $6,300
Head MRI$410 - $6,100
Cardiac MRI$430 - $6,500
Bone MRI$410 - $2,100

Source: New Choice Health

Factors that Influence the Cost of MRI

Many factors can affect the cost of your health services. For an MRI procedure, prices vary depending on where the MRI is taking place on your body. Additional factors that influence the cost of MRI include the facility setting, whether you have insurance, and your location.

Facility

As previously discussed, where you receive your procedure can influence the costs. MRIs are more expensive at inpatient facilities, such as hospitals than at outpatient facilities. Inpatient procedures are often more costly because these facilities require a more significant expense to maintain and may require additional supplies and services due to extended stays. 

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Insurance Status

MRIs are typically covered by insurance, as they are considered diagnostic tests, but only when the procedure is deemed medically necessary. If your deductible has been met, you can expect to cover the copay. 

Location

The location where you live can impact the cost you can expect to pay for an MRI procedure. The region, state, and city you live in will determine the number of facilities you have to choose from. If you live in a more rural location, you may have fewer MRI facilities to choose from, increasing your costs. In a city with many facilities with many providers to choose from, you are more likely to find lower-cost options.

MRI Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below we have answered a few frequently asked questions to help you better understand MRI procedures. 

What is an MRI?

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine is a large, tube-shaped magnet that uses a magnetic field and computer-generated radio waves to form detailed images of the organs and tissues in your body. These machines can also produce 3D images for viewing at different angles. Patients undergoing this procedure will lay down inside the MRI tube. 

Why and when do doctors recommend MRI?

According to the Mayo Clinic, doctors use MRIs to help diagnose various problems within the body. As the table above discussed, the costs can vary depending on where the procedure and the need for diagnosis are taking place. Since MRIs can diagnose complications through the entire body, below is a list of common diagnoses for the various types of procedures:

  • Brain and spinal cord: aneurysms, eye, and ear disorders, multiple sclerosis, stroke, tumors, traumatic brain injury
  • Heart and blood vessels: size and function of heart chambers, the extent of damage from heart attacks or heart disease, inflammation or blockages of blood vessels, structural problems of the aorta
  • Bones and joints: joint abnormalities from trauma or repetitive use, spinal disk abnormalities, bone infections, tumors of the bones and soft tissues

Another type of MRI is called the functional MRI of the brain, which is used to examine the brain’s anatomy to determine where critical functions occur. FMRI can identify and assess damage from injury or disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease by viewing the language and movement control centers within the brain. 

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What should I expect during an MRI?

Before entering the MRI machine, you will be asked to change into a gown to reduce any possibility of an external object that could impact the magnetic imaging, such as metal accessories. For example, you would be asked to remove jewelry, metal hair clips, watches, eyeglasses, hearing aids, underwire bras, and any cosmetics that may contain metal particles. To improve your MRI images, your MRI technologist may suggest a contrasting agent injected into a vein, such as gadolinium.

During the test, you will lay down on an open and moveable end of the MRI tube, then slide you into the machine. You often wear headphones and a microphone as the technologist watches from another room for their safety. 

If you typically feel anxious in tight spaces, you could be provided medication to help you feel less nervous, but most can manage without. If you are sedated due to claustrophobia, you should ensure you have someone to drive you home when done. These procedures are painless and typically last anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour, but you are expecting to remain still to not impact the resolution of the imaging. Depending on the MRI, you may be asked to perform certain tasks, such as in an fMRI to pinpoint the areas of the brain controlling the action. Once complete, you may resume your usual activities unless directed by your doctor otherwise.

Are there any risks associated with getting an MRI?

The MRI machine contains powerful magnets and can cause a safety hazard if presented with iron-containing objects in your body internally and externally. Before getting an MRI, you will determine whether you are eligible by answering a brief questionnaire about your medical history. Items that may create a health hazard during the procedure include: 

  • Cardiac pacemakers or implantable defibrillators (ICDs)
  • Vascular clips
  • External or implanted medication pumps
  • Cochlear implants
  • Neurostimulation systems
  • Catheters with metal components
  • Bullets or shrapnel, or other fragments
  • Metallic foreign body near or within the eye (more common in metal workers)

Diagnostic Radiologist Dr. Ben E. Paxton says that you should even remove your credit card and leave it outside the room. The large magnet of an MRI can easily corrupt information stored, as credit cards are magnetically encoded.

If you have any of these objects, you will want to speak with your doctor before undergoing the procedure. Some types of cardiac pacemakers, cochlear implants, medication pumps, and neurostimulation systems are safe, so you must provide your MRI technologist with information regarding your implants. 

Who should avoid getting an MRI?

Those with metal implant devices, staples, or some tattoos with metal ink may require you to opt for another test. According to Dr. Paxton, those with kidney problems may have gadolinium contrast. The dye can cause nephrogenic fibrosis in people with kidney disease - thickening and hardening of tissue on the skin or joints. 

Dr. Paxton also recommends that women who have recently become pregnant avoid MRIs during the first trimester while the organs and tissues are still developing. While MRIs do not cause harm to the baby as it grows up, they can raise the body’s temperature. 

Bottom Line

The costs of MRI exams can vary depending on location, facility, and where the imaging is performed on the body. You will be expected to meet your deductible if you have insurance before your insurance kicks in for payment. Otherwise, you will be expected to pay out-of-pocket. While the national average range for these procedures is $375 to $2,850, a neck MRI or even a chest MRI may cost you upwards of $10,000.

Ashley Brooks

Ashley Brooks works in Healthcare Consulting and graduates with her MPH in September of 2022 from George Washington University, but graduated with her B.S. in Health Science from James Madison University in 2019. Ashley has been with Mira since June of 2021 and shares the passion for creating affordable healthcare coverage for all!