Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Save Thousands by Having MRI, CT and Other Scans Performed at Outpatient Imaging Centers

Trident Medical Imaging – Gwinnett joins forces with independent imaging centers across Georgia

To ensure Georgians have access to the highest-quality scans without the inflated costs of many hospitals, Trident Medical Imaging – Gwinnett and other independent imaging centers from across the state have launched Outpatient Imaging Coalition (OIC).

Many Gwinnett County residents may not realize they can potentially save thousands of dollars and lower their co-pays by having MRI, CT and other scans performed at outpatient imaging centers instead of hospitals, helping to reduce overall healthcare spending.

"When a physician refers a patient to a hospital for an MRI, that cost can be as high as $2,500. That patient may not realize he can instead choose to go to an outpatient imaging center for, in some cases, five times less," says Laura Gallagher, spokesperson and creative marketing director for OIC. "However, not all outpatient medical imaging centers are created equal. That's why OIC developed a set of high standards that all participating centers will have to meet before being considered for membership."

OIC has launched a website (
www.GoOutpatient.com) where Georgians can easily search through OIC members who meet its high standards and locate the nearest center.

Health-insurance companies are also working to inform their customers about the cost discrepancies between centers and hospitals. United Healthcare Service LLC mailed a letter earlier this year asking customers to "check with your doctor to see if the scan can be performed at an imaging center which is usually less expensive than a hospital." The letter also highlighted that the company's copayment for hospital scans is $95, while the copayment for a "free-standing facility" is $25.

"The costs for medical imaging at hospitals are so much higher because of the high overhead," says Gallagher. "Georgians can play a part in lowering healthcare costs by simply telling their doctors to recommend imaging centers for their scans instead."

OIC centers all meet a long list of requirements and that any member is guaranteed to be a quality scan provider. All of OIC's members:
- Accept Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids (many hospitals don't)
- Feature the same quality scanning machines as the hospitals
- Are accredited by the American College of Radiology
- Have scans read by board certified physicians
- Pass scan results to board-certified physicians

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