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How much does a limb MRI cost?

On average, a limb MRI costs $1,567 at a hospital or $504 at a freestanding imaging center. See cost estimates for facilities in your area below.

limb MRI cost

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive test that uses a large magnet and radio waves to see inside your body. MRIs are used to diagnose illness or injuries, so you only need one if your doctor recommends it. A limb MRI includes one of the upper or lower extremities, including legs, arms, and hands.

On average, a limb MRI costs $1,567 at a hospital or $504 at a freestanding imaging center. Keep in mind—this is an estimate for what you and your health insurance company might pay together (combined) for the procedure, not the amount you’ll pay out-of-pocket.

Your MRI may be more or less expensive, depending on what kind of image you need and where you get it done. Below, you can use Amino to see cost estimates at hospitals and freestanding imaging centers in your area. Then, read on to learn more about what a limb MRI is and what affects the overall cost.

See cost estimates for imaging centers in your area

Use Amino (below) to see cost estimates at hospitals and freestanding imaging centers in your area. After entering your information, select a facility and scroll down to see the estimated cost of a limb MRI. For the most accurate estimate, make sure to specify your insurance.

Why is there a price difference between hospitals and freestanding imaging centers?

You can get an MRI at two different types of facilities: a hospital imaging center or a freestanding imaging center. Hospital imaging centers are often located within the hospital building itself (or in the same area). Freestanding imaging centers are not affiliated with a hospital network, and they usually operate only during regular business hours.

You’re probably wondering why a limb MRI costs so much more at a hospital than a freestanding imaging center. This is generally true for other types of MRIs and X-rays, too—hospital imaging tends to be more expensive. That's part of the reason why we recently launched cost estimates for MRIs and X-rays on Amino—to make it easier to navigate.

There are a number of reasons for the cost discrepancy, including:

  • Hospitals have higher overhead costs, since they’re open 24/7, employ a larger staff, and offer more healthcare services (including emergency care).

  • Hospitals bill differently. They often include revenue codes on their bills, which take into account the higher operating cost of the hospital itself.

  • The imaging equipment used may be different. MRI and X-ray machines vary in quality, cost to purchase, and cost to maintain.

If your MRI is not an emergency and you can choose where to go, Amino’s MRI search can show you prices in your area. But cheaper isn’t always better, so make sure to ask your doctor why they’re referring you to a specific facility—they may have valuable insight into the quality of the facility, or the expertise of the radiologists who work there.

Will health insurance cover your limb MRI?

Most insurers will cover your MRI as long as it’s medically necessary. In that case, you should only be on the hook for your deductible, co-insurance, and co-pay.

If you don’t have insurance, you may have to pay out-of-pocket. Below are some tips to get the most for your money.

How to get the most for your money

Even if your insurance does cover some or most of your MRI, you’ll likely still pay some of the cost out-of-pocket. To make sure you’re getting the most (and best) care for your money:

  • Ask your insurance company about your costs ahead of time, like your co-insurance, co-pay, and deductible—so you know what to expect.

  • Utilize your Health Savings Account (HSA), Flexible Spending Account (FSA), and Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) to cover out-of-pocket expenses.

  • If it’s not an emergency, do your research and compare different imaging centers in your area. Freestanding imaging centers often have lower prices than hospitals, so make sure to ask your doctor why they’re referring you to a specific facility.

  • Ask the imaging center about price. This is especially important if you don’t have insurance and are paying for your MRI yourself. Some centers will offer a discount if they know you’re shouldering the cost on your own.

  • Check your bill to make sure you’ve been charged for the correct procedure.

The cost of a limb MRI in the US

The cost of a limb MRI can vary drastically, depending on where you go and what state you live in. We looked at the largest metro areas in the country (the ones with more than 1 million residents) and found the least expensive areas for hospitals and freestanding imaging centers.

The least expensive metro areas for a limb MRI from a freestanding imaging center

  1. Richmond, VA — $362
  2. Oklahoma City, OK — $402
  3. Salt Lake City, UT — $405
  4. Cleveland-Elyria, OH — $406
  5. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY — $409
  6. Birmingham-Hoover, AL — $415
  7. Columbus, OH — $422
  8. St. Louis, MO-IL — $431
  9. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL — $432
  10. Rochester, NY — $434

The most expensive metro areas for a limb MRI from a freestanding imaging center

  1. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI — $967
  2. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI — $765
  3. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA — $718
  4. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA — $660
  5. Raleigh, NC — $659
  6. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH — $655
  7. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC — $615
  8. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX — $597
  9. Austin-Round Rock, TX — $575
  10. Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT — $575

The least expensive metro areas for a limb MRI from a hospital imaging center

  1. Birmingham-Hoover, AL — $687
  2. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD — $783
  3. Pittsburgh, PA — $823
  4. New Orleans-Metairie, LA — $852
  5. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY — $853
  6. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO — $862
  7. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ — $880
  8. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI — $880
  9. Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA — $918
  10. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA — $921

The most expensive metro areas for a limb MRI from a hospital imaging center

  1. Oklahoma City, OK — $2393
  2. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC — $2328
  3. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA — $2295
  4. Jacksonville, FL — $2203
  5. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX — $2180
  6. San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX — $2166
  7. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX — $2133
  8. Columbus, OH — $2068
  9. Cleveland-Elyria, OH — $2066
  10. Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT — $2044

Ultimately, the cost of your MRI is determined by many factors. You can use Amino’s MRI search as a guide to help you understand how much it costs in your area, what factors into the total cost, and how much you might pay out-of-pocket—but you should always check with the facility.

Why you can trust our price estimates

Amino’s network rate estimate is based on analysis and data modeling of de-identified data from millions of health insurance claims from 129 health insurance companies—including the largest insurers in the United States like UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, Humana, Cigna, Blue Cross, Blue Shield, and more. The data comes from insurance claims dating between January 2012 and December 2016, which means we are able to show cost estimates for millions of combinations of medical procedures, facilities, insurance companies, and regions.

For more information, you can read our complete methodology here.

Amino's cost estimates are refreshed periodically. This post was last updated on May 11, 2017 with new data.

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