A CAT scan (also called a CT scan) is a noninvasive, painless medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. CAT scans allow physicians to rapidly create detailed pictures of the body allowing them to more easily diagnose problems such as cancers, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, trauma and musculoskeletal disorders. CAT scans may also be used to guide surgeons to the right area during a biopsy. CAT scans are one of the more common imaging technologies used by physicians to analyze the internal structures of various parts of the body. There are approximately 52 million CAT scan test performed each year making this one of the more common imaging technologies used by the medical field.
Employees Group Benefit Program: If you are a participating employee in a Group Benefit Program at work, you and your employer can arrange to have the cost of your CAT scan paid for under the program by your employer’s group insurance carrier on an “extra-contractual” basis. The terms vary from plan to plan, but group benefit programs invariably provide for such “extra-contractual” arrangements. The expense is tax-deductible to the employer so make sure you speak with your employer before you pay for your CAT scan.
As noted above, CAT Scan costs can vary by thousands of dollars and it’s important that you shop around for your procedure. For example, listed below are some real examples or CAT Scan prices from around the United States.
Pricing medical scans Are you overpaying for common medical scans? Hospitals and medical facilities negotiate prices with health plans, but rarely advertise their rates. If you’re not careful, you could pay 300% to 500% more than what the imaging center down the block is charging for the same scan, says Jeffrey Rice, MD, PhD, CEO of Healthcare Bluebook, a guide to “fair” prices for health services. Prices also vary by body part, reflecting the resources required to scan, say, a head versus a hip. Using a contrast agent to make organs and tissues more visible on the scan also bumps up the price. The good news for consumers: “You can get really good value in almost every city in America if you shop around,” Dr. Rice says. Here are some sample prices and money-saving tips. 1 of 8
Are you overpaying for common medical scans? Hospitals and medical facilities negotiate prices with health plans, but rarely advertise their rates. If you’re not careful, you could pay 300% to 500% more than what the imaging center down the block is charging for the same scan, says Jeffrey Rice, MD, PhD, CEO of Healthcare Bluebook, a guide to “fair” prices for health services. Prices also vary by body part, reflecting the resources required to scan, say, a head versus a hip. Using a contrast agent to make organs and tissues more visible on the scan also bumps up the price. The good news for consumers: “You can get really good value in almost every city in America if you shop around,” Dr. Rice says. Here are some sample prices and money-saving tips.
What’s not in doubt is that Collier paid much more for that CT scan than she needed to. Cigna allows plan members to look up some cost information online, and it turns out that an in-network freestanding imaging center near her home offers the same type of CT scan that she had in the hospital, but for a mere $318.
Most insurance companies, including Medicare, will reimburse the cost of getting a CT scan. In most situations when a CT scan is requested by a medical professional the procedure is automatically determined to be reimbursable dependant upon your particular insurance plan. It’s important that you are familiar with your insurance prior to having any procedure, especially expensive procedures, performed to know if there are any special notifications or authorizations that need to be secured to ensure reimbursement. Make sure you notify the imaging doctor or technician of your concerns or pre-certification prior to any elective tests or procedures. If pre-certification is required by our insurance carrier and you do not get such pre-certification this may result in full denial of your insurance claim. Medicare and other insurance coverage policies are always changing so it is important that you contact Medicare (www.mericare.gov) or your insurance company to determine coverage prior to having any procedure performed.
Since the difference in cost for a CT scan could be thousands of dollars, it’s important to shop around before having the scan. Healthcare prices are not created equal, as we’ve seen from researching the costs to have a baby, gallbladder removal surgery and an ultrasound. In fact, healthcare prices for in-network procedures can vary by 400 percent, according to Healthcare Bluebook.
CAT scans use special x-ray equipment to produce multiple pictures of the inside of the body. Software joins the pictures together in cross-sectional views for detailed examination. CAT scans can be used to view internal organs, bone, soft tissue and blood vessels. These scans provide greater clarity than conventional x-ray exams. Often a special dye, called contrast, may be ingested to further enhance the scan images and the various structural relationships of the areas of interest. so that specific areas inside the body are highlighted. CT scans are often used to defining the structural relationships of the spin, the spinal cord, and its nerves. CT scans are also used in the chest to identify tumors, cysts, or infections that may be suspected on a chest x-ray. CT scans of the abdomen are extremely helpful in defining body organ anatomy, including visualizing the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, aorta, kidneys, uterus, and ovaries. CT scans in this area are used to verify the presence or absence of tumors, infection, abnormal anatomy, or changes of the body from trauma.
6. Have your CT scan at the cheapest place. A cheap CT scan may sound like you are settling for poor quality or untrained administrators. However, prices in medicine are not based on quality, but rather on the bargaining power of the providers.
Ways to Save Prices for MRI and CT scans have some of the greatest price variances in healthcare. The most important factor impacting the cost of your care will be which facility you use. Some imaging centers charge three to five times more than other centers. Hospitals are usually the most expensive, and “free-standing” (non-hospital) centers are usually less expensive. Fair Price Information The Fair Price is the price that you should reasonably expect a medical service to cost if you shop for care. Even in-network providers can have big cost differences for the exact same service. The most expensive can cost more than five times as much as providers that charge a Fair Price. The Fair Price is calculated from actual amounts health plans have paid on claims. Some services show “bundled” pricing, which means there are multiple parts to the Fair Price. These usually include facility, physician and anesthesiologist fees, and can be viewed individually in the Fair Price Details. It’s always a good idea to request a price estimate from the provider and compare it to the Fair Price before your procedure. The information on this website is not a price guarantee. There is no guarantee that any specific provider will charge a specific rate or that specific services will be covered under your benefit plan. For more information about the Fair Price, click here.
3. Look up the fair price for the type of CT scan your doctor recommends on Healthcare Bluebook, a great resource to look up fair prices for services. According the website, a fair price is based on the “average fee providers in your area accept as payment from insurance companies. This is the price you should have to pay, even if your provider charges more. You can use this price to negotiate with your provider or shop for an in-network provider that charges a fair price.
What it is: This type of scan provides a continuous video image, like a motion picture. Doctors can see the gastrointestinal tract at work, insert catheters, and guide joint replacements, among other uses.