Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a painless test that uses a large magnet and radio waves to create detailed pictures of the inside of your body. Pelvic MRIs are used to diagnose and monitor illnesses or injuries in the pelvic region (the space between your hips that houses your reproductive organs and other important muscles). You only need an MRI if your doctor recommends it.
On average, a pelvic MRI costs $1,811 at a hospital or $672 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.
Read on to learn more about what a pelvic MRI is and what affects the overall cost.
When do you need a pelvic MRI?
Pelvic MRIs are a diagnostic tool, so they’re used for a variety of reasons. Doctors often order pelvic MRIs to identify the cause of:
- Pain or injury in your pelvis
- Cancer (or suspected cancer) in your reproductive organs
- Abnormal X-ray results
- Unexplained difficulty using the bathroom
For women, your doctor may also order a pelvic MRI to diagnose:
- Irregular vaginal bleeding
- Uterine fibroids or other masses
For men, your doctor may also order a pelvic MRI to diagnose:
- Lumps or swelling in the scrotum or testicles
- An undescended testicle
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms or conditions above, see a doctor—but you may not need an MRI.
Where can you get a pelvic MRI?
You can get an MRI at a hospital imaging center, freestanding imaging center, or urgent care facility. For the purposes of this post, we're focusing on the costs at hospitals and imaging centers.
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.
Why is there a price difference between hospitals and freestanding imaging centers?
You’re probably wondering why a pelvic 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. There are a number of reasons for this, 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 pelvic 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 pelvic 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.
Shopping for a pelvic MRI
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), or 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 using Amino. 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.
Also, if you’re claustrophobic, you may need a mild sedative to stay calm during the procedure. It can cost hundreds of dollars, so make sure to include that in your budget.