Who's paying for copies of medical MRI tests? long etc from Anne Breen
- Dear BT friends,
After more than fifteen years of annual and/or semiannual MRI's I have experienced both ends of the medical records copy payment roulette routine. I have paid three hundred dollars and gotten them for free from the same location over the years, all because of changing insurance plan coverage and various medical business and customer service personnel contacts. &:>)
Most MR Imaging centers have customer service representatives to contact if you can not seem to get copies of your MRI test results for free or at a reasonable reproduction cost. ( Like any copy machine, you might be expected to pay a minimum charge for the film, the electricity and the work time of the technician)
Usually, if you ask the MRI technician politely BEFORE, before, the test is done at any major medical center, you can hope to get and extra set printed free for your personal use right then and there. IF they have to go back and retrieve your films from their vast file systems you might incur more labor time costs, but if the tech person can run two sets right then, while they are making the originals, it is much cheaper for their boss. IF you sneeze during the test or they have to give you valium to keep you still, it costs someone more too. Politely remind them these are simply copies of tests that have been done and paid for by your own insurance company or you personally, remember stress is not good for your health.
Tonight I am wondering along with Ernesto Portillo who writes in the Arizona Daily Star on Friday, March 28th, 2002 what they will ask our wonderful Dr. Richard Carmona of the U of A in his Senate confirmation hearings for Surgeon General? What happens to the millions of Americans that do not have any insurance at all if they get cancer and need these expensive tests and regular long-term care?
Our most urgent national problem is that we have 40 million Americans that have no health insurance at all and millions more that have inadequate insurance, says Dr. Herbert Abrams at the University of Arizona's College of Medicine. I agree with him. If you are older, or live in a rural area or are an ethnic minority, health care is more likely to be poorer and harder to obtain, said G. Marie Swanson, the dean of the U of A's College of Public Health, I agree with her too.
I believe Dr. Richard Carmona is the right kind of an honest tough guy to appoint to deal with the common biomedical fear and terror we suffer from the rogue cells in various parts of our own bodies, and the plague and threat of cancer in our homeland. Nixon declared war on cancer thirty years ago, our government officials must be thinking about protecting all our citizens from this very real threat or at least providing adequate preventative public health care like MRI's. I think Dr. Patrick Kelly at NYU has a foundation that promotes the broader use of standard MRIs and more reasonable costs for their general use.
Sometimes I have gotten MRI test copies for free, or the two or three main pages I wanted, for free, and sometimes I have paid up to $250 for a set of eight pages at the same imaging center after the head accountant (no pun intended) realized that I was still one of their most frequent repeat customers and they might be losing money on me because of the type of contract (per capital, per head, lol) they had with my insurance company. Some of my previous MRI films have been lost or stolen in transit to doctors offices for appointments some office staff have told me, I always want my own copies now too.
IMHO it is not about good medical care, I think the high test and copy costs are about accounting department executives in some small private investment imaging centers trying to make bigger profit margins. Your insurance company has customer service reps too. Ask them if they think anyone should have to pay approximately $250 dollars for result copies of the tests they have already been paid for?
One time several years ago, I was even refused the prescheduled six month MRI test in early December that was pre-approved by both my HMO and my PCP doctor. I arrived at the imaging center with my official HMO referral slip in my hand for the appointment time. At the imaging center, a young good looking accounting department staffer said my MRI test was not approved by my insurance carrier. He met me out in the waiting room and blamed it on my own HMO insurance coverage in front of all the other patients waiting. I knew that was baloney, I went home and called the imaging center customer service rep, visited her in her office downtown that week and finally got it straightened out and got my test done during my own very busy week right before Christmas. That stable MRI test was one of the best Christmas presents I have ever received! But I had to work hard to get it.
It seems like common sense to me that the longer we manage to survive without any change in a small, stable low grade brain tumor, or after surgical removal or radiotherapy, the more important it should be for our future health to monitor our case at least annually for any changes. I do not understand why they so often seem to want to stop monitoring us at all, if there are no noticeable changes after two to four years. I think it might become even more important later on to watch for possible recurrence, especially with ordinarily slow growing meningiomas, or if we have had radiation to our brain. If I had not had an annual MRI in year six post op, the recurrence might not have been discovered until it had done a lot more damage or perhaps become a more aggressive grade tumor, no one knows for sure.
(Here's where I start whining again, please blame it on my low-grade temporal lobe brain tumor, I do, I know it is not normal, hehehe, maybe more "normal" people or senators should ask these public health questions about the disparities in national health care costs and services on my medical "wish" list, not just a "poor recurrent brain tumor patient" like me, what do I know? hehehe!) &:>)
One m patient I know says her last head MRI test cost about $1900 almost two thousand dollars, that we taxpayers cover, so she hesitates to ask for more frequent testing, my bill says my last basic head MRI with contrast only cost $341.00 that my HMO insurance should cover, my personal copies were free. What is going on? Why such a cost disparity? I know there are different quality machines, but does that account for it?
How much did your last head MRI cost and who paid for it?
How much were you charged for your personal copies?
Would you write to the list or me personally and share information about these last two questions above as sort of a public survey question?
We need a Patient's Bill of Rights now. We need oral chemo prescription drugs covered by Medicare, we need more skilled nurses and better longterm individual medical case management and longterm drug side effects monitoring for better follow-up care and social and physical rehabilitation before more babyboomers are affected by cancer or brain injury. We need to follow the bucks to figure out what happening to our public health care expenses and costs in the hospital and insurance billing systems.
PATENTS or PATIENTS? Profits or providers? Which is more important?
GBYAY Anne McGinnis Breen
Surviving and thriving, two craniotomies and clinical trial, NCI SWOG 9005 Phase III
(ALWAYS GET ANNUAL MRI's after diagnosis or any treatment)
recurrent left sphenoid wing meningioma, behind left eye, two surgeries and a clinical trial, first surgery 1986, age 39, Tucson, Arizona, and second one, January 2000, age 53, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona
KOKO! Means Keep on Keepin ON!
Treasure Your MIND, Cherish Your REASON, Hold to Your PURPOSE