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cost of breast MRI
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cost of breast MRI

I was wondering if anyone knows what the general cost was for a breast MRI?

I have a few lumps that can be felt but are not dectected on either mammogram or ultrasound.  So the last 6 months my doctor has been taking the 'wait and watch' approach.  I can't stand the anxiety anymore of the 'wait and watch' approach.  I am a nervous wreck and think about my undiagnosed breast lumps all the time.  It's definately interfering with a happy life for me.

My doctor does not want to do a biopsy, since I have breast implants and he's afraid a needle biopsy will rupture the implant.  I have consulted with two surgeons on this matter, and both opted for the 'wait and watch' approach.

The surgeon I saw more recently tried to get my insurance company to approve a breast MRI on the basis that I have dense breasts and lumps that aren't detected on the other imaging.  My insurance turned down the claim, stating that I 'wasn't high risk' enough to warrant the cost.

I would be willing to pay for the MRI myself, just for piece of mind.

I'm 37 years old, with dense breasts and 1 aunt on my dad's side had breast cancer.  Other risk factors for me are that I have never had children and therefore never breast fed a child.

Any suggestions?

Thanks!
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7 Comments
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25201_tn?1255584436
Somewhere between $1000 and $1500 depending on the Institution.
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Avatar_n_tn
The receptionist made an appointment for me --no choice of provider; no prices quoted-- for an MRI with contast.  

Before my MD takes me off armidex, she wanted the MRI to make sure the clear mammos were correct.  I had been diagnosed with BC in 2002, had been on tamoxifen for 18 months, until I got pulmonary embolisms, and have been on armidex for almost five years.

As an economist/financial planner, I checked the cost on the internet -- $1000 to $2000 according to the NYT.  If they did one without contrast and one with, the cost, I thought, would be $2000 to $4000, max.

Wrong!  It was $7,700; my copay is over $1,073 -- and this is with BC/BS with the deductible satisfied.  

I don't like this, but I can afford it by cutting back on other expenses, such as visiting the grandchild; my petsitter (age 66), who was diagnosed shortly after me, could not were she presented with such a bill.  In fact, she said that if she had an unexpected expense that large she would probably lose her home.

I talked with the oncological nurse; her comment "We have no idea what these procedures cost; we just prescribe what we think our patients need."

I haven't talked to my oncologist about this yet, but I will at my next appointment; the hospital simply says that I agreed to pay and so I owe them.  

So, two questions:  what is the basic cost for a breast MRI with contrast?  and how can we get our health providers to "comparison shop"?  True, we don't wish to get "cheap" about our health care; we also don't wish to be charged premium prices for average care.

Any and all comments would be appreciated!

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Avatar_f_tn
If the insurance companies were not in the loop, then the cost would probably be cheaper. A few years ago I had to have an h.pylori test. I had it done through my mother's doctor, who goes by "insurance" cost instead of "real" cost. The test cost over $300, even though I was paying with cash and not actually going through an insurance company. A nurse friend later told me I could have had the test for $20 at the local clinic where she works, because they go by "real" cost. Same with my chiropractor. When I paid cash, the visit was $35. When I went on insurance, the cost went up to $50.
I think most doctors, hospitals, etc, automatically charge the "insurance" cost unless they are one of the places that specify up front that they have a cash discount.
The insurance companies are running the medical profession and we all know it. Women who have been in the breast cancer loop for a while know it better than most people.
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326352_tn?1310997895
My oncologist stated that a typical MRI at his teaching facility would run 7500-8000.  Once you get one done as a baseline, then if you have an issue, an MRI would be done annually.  We thought about paying out of pocket for this, but decided that the price was too steep and elected to get head to toe CT scans which are mostly covered by our insurance.
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks for your input!  I have had two other MRI's before, once for by brain and the other on the c-spine, since I have multiple sclerosis.  Each was on those was around $1800, but my insurance paid for both.

My insurance denied me for the breast MRI, since I don't have that particular gene for breast cancer.  And truthfully, I don't think my doctor pushed too hard to get it either!
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Avatar_n_tn
I had a breast MRI with contrast, and the cost on my insurance statement was something like $3400.  Mine was ordered and approved by insurance beforehand however.
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Avatar_n_tn
You could try thermography as another alternative.  It uses an infrared camera to watch for the physiological changes that cancer causes.  No IV, radiation, or compression.  
I would recommend looking for a place that has studies read by physicians.  Meditherm is one place that has MDs read the studies, but there may be others.
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