MRI Cost and the Free Market

Hello everyone,

I suppose I just want to vent and I know everyone out here will know what I’m talking about. Thanks in advance for reading.

I have an AVM within my cervical spine and until the cyber-knife I was always told there was no surgical help for me. I am one of the millions here in the US without medical insurance so I haven’t seen a doctor since my last bleed in 2000. Well on June 6th, 2009 I suffered a minor bleed and lost consciousness for a bit and was taken to the ER. I played it off that I was OK because I knew there was no way I could cover the cost of the ER visit let alone a hospital stay.

The doctor of course said he wanted me to have a cat scan. I said I didn’t want it since it was only going to be of my brain and not my cervical spine and I have no insurance. I acquiesced in hopes of being discharged. The doctor let me leave a few hours later.

The cat scan didn’t show anything, as is typical because every time I’ve bled in the past cat scans never see it. Only MRI’s or MRA’s of the cervical spine show anything.

I got the bill for almost $2,500 which included the cat scan. I sent in all my financial records and the hospital wrote it off under their charity program. I was so relieved. I have all the other incidental bills like the ER doctor, the Radiologist, the Ambulance etc to contend with.

So now comes my vent… my mother insisted that I go to the local clinic and see a neurologist so I did. That doctor gave me a script for Lamictal which I haven’t filled yet, waiting for funds to get it. The Neurologist also ordered an MRI for my brain AND cervical spine. I called to set everything up and started asking about the cost. The hospital where I was scheduled to go for the MRI is the same one who gave me the write off for the ER visit but they don’t own, or whatever, the MRI machine another company does and they don’t have any charity programs and the cost for the MRI is $8,794.00 That doesn’t include the blood work and other x-rays that the Neurologist ordered.

I was supposed to go tomorrow, July 23rd but I called today and cancelled.

I mean, what’s the point? Yeah, they’ll be able to see how my AVM is, if it’s changed, grown or caused an aneurysm, but that’s the end of the line. I certainly can’t afford the angiogram ($40,000 or so last time I checked) that would be ordered prior to cyber-knife surgery and the surgery itself and then we don’t know how many times I’d have to be treated with the cyber-kinfe and on and on… you all know the drill.

I suppose I am simply feeling let down a bit because I wanted to know my current condition since I haven’t been seen about it in nearly 10 years.

I did find a site on the internet called Remake Health. They are brokers for medical testing. I don’t know how reputable they are but supposedly if I had the cash or a credit card I could get the MRI done for a fraction of the price, $1,450.00 here at one the local facilities. I called that same facility, asked about the price for the same MRI tests, and was quoted $3,919.00.

Now I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but those are some huge differences in prices. $8,794.00 at the hospital, which doesn’t even own it and then $3,919.00 at a local imaging facility and the said same facility will supposedly broker out the same tests for $1,450.00.

Sounds like health insurance in a free market does give consumers the opportunity for lower priced health care. I really don’t think Obama’s national health care program is going to have a positive effect on that system. I think it’s going to push out all competiton.

What do you all think?

I think it comes down to should health care be a business or a public service? Do we want GE or the New York Fire Department? Ideally, some of both.

A truly competitive health care system innovates and keeps costs low, but if you can’t pay you’re SOL. A public service system can get bloated if not well-run, but it makes sure everyone gets covered.

People assume that the govt can do anything right, but I disagree. If our US Army run campaigns of hundred of thousands of troops with “military precision” and the USPS can deliver your mail to Alaska for $0.44, maybe it can add some value if executed correctly.

I’m all for a more European/Canadian style health care system.

I agree with Ben, I was raised in France and this would not be an issue at all in France…The states need to modify there healthcare system…I am sorry for this Kimberly, wish I could help. :frowning:

the health system sucks…the same here in australia…i was told i had an inoperable avm with several anurysms that was bound to bleed sooner than later in my life but sorry nothing can be done…i finally found a surgeon who completed the very risky operation but unfourtunatley i didnt have private health insurance to cover the costs so my operation… cost 300, 000…it was either that or die…my local community rallied together to ask the government to help…and the government turned around and said no i had to foot the bill myself so my parents along with my husband and i have had to remorgage our homes and thanks to a great community they helped rais 70,000 towards the bills…but i understand your frustrations its sucks

cash is not a issue in scotland we would be knackerd if it was

Hi Kimberly,

This sounds like something I went through on a smaller scale when the doctors were trying to figure out what the lump was in my neck. I had a CT scan done at a medical clinic that cost around $200 in total which was inconclusive. My doctor asked for a guided needle biopsy, but the radiology department at the hospital said that they wanted to do another CT scan. When I said that I already had a CT scan done, I was told that they wanted to scan my thyroad gland. I told them that I had one done two months previous to that and had the results sent to them, but that was not good enough. In order to appease them, I had the 2nd CT scan done, which showed that there was nothing wrong with my thyroid gland. I was even more upset when the bill for this worthless scan was in the $2,000 range. I am fortunate enough to have health insurance that paid for most of both of these tests, but there have been times when I haven’t had insurance, and I know how hard that is.

Take care,


I can barely read that story. Living in Canada, it makes me sick to think that you have this added stress. It just seems so wrong but I know that is the way it is.

I have some really strong feelings about our health care system, but I’ll try to keep this to a minimum. We all know that the price is not really the price. If you have insurance they bill them and the insurance pays a portion of that. If you discuss beforehand and have cash to pay, you only pay a portion (usually smaller than the insurance price). All of this is to make up for the fact that some people who are uninsured are treated anyway. Hospitals have to make money, or at least break even. As more incredible technology is created to provide medical solutions, we spend more of our wages to pay for the care. Which is why the “cost” of health care is going up. Truly the cost isn’t going up. If you compare the same services and meds from 10 years ago they are cheaper, but new and better treatments are available and they cost more.
That said, I am completely sympathetic to everyone that is affected by medical costs. Even with insurance, it can be difficult. Deductibles, copays, time off work, and added expenses for gas and food take a toll. I hope that there is a solution that can provide coverage for those that are uninsurable without destroying innovation.

OMG Kim I’m sorry 2 hear about all of this mess. I’m blessed in many ways than one because I was in the Navy at the time the AVM was discovered. My question 2 u is have u tried Public Aid or r u on disability?
I know it’s hard 2 deal with and other stressors in your life. But I have run across some idiots that think I had 35,000 just sitting in the bank. Oh yeah I just had a embolization again after the million time but it landed me
In the ICU again and ER again after bein discharged so u can just imagine I want 2 clear of the hospital but not possible I couldn’t move my hand at all after the embolism this time so I’m going 2 occupational therapy 2 times a week
So I can go back 2 work 2 pay copays and crap as needed. Nothing in life is free even when u have issurance.

As far as the Onama healthcare plan idk what will happen. Right now more doctors are going private bc they make more money. I don’t think doctors become doctors anymore 2 care for patients but 2 make money off us. It’s sad but true. My
Suggestion is 2 gather all of ur medical records and go 2 the last hospital financial rep office. Their has 2 be a doctor who will take you case pro bono. I pray that you will continue 2 seek help because ur life depends on it. Just TRY bc every second
Counts with these AVMS.

There is a discussion here that might help low income patients.


I get my Lamictal from GSK. Here is the link to see if you qualify and how to get it.