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An MRI is one of those standard tests that doctors order routinely. But the price you’ll pay can be unpredictable.
Sometimes the price tag depends on where you live: It could reach $10,000 in San Francisco. Or be as low as $1,000 in St. Louis — if you’re willing to haggle. And the kind of imaging center you choose often makes a difference: Was it a fancy specialty hospital linked to a university or a standalone facility at the mall?
Liz Salmi — of Sacramento, Calif. — has been living with brain cancer for more than 10 years and gets an MRI every six months to make sure the cancer’s not growing. On her old insurance plan, she paid $50 for a brain scan. Then her job changed, her health insurance changed, and she was billed $1,600.
Not everyone has the time or patient know-how, but Salmi shopped around and found a deal that saves her hundreds of dollars every year.
On Episode 3 of “An Arm and a Leg,” find out how she did it.
Season 2 is a co-production of Kaiser Health News and Public Road Productions.
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