8 Jan, 2024

How Much Does a Private MRI Scan Cost? Your Guide to the Cost of an MRI, and How To Find Affordable Options

Do you need an MRI scan? Have you been waiting too long for an accurate diagnosis? Or, are you worried that the option of going private for your scan will have sky-high costs?

If you've got MRI on your mind, and are thinking about booking a private MRI scan to speed up the process, this simple guide will cover how much an MRI scan costs, what's included, and how in many cases, private MRI scans cost less than you might think. We'll also help you to compare costs at scanning centres near you, to find the best option for your health - and your wallet.

What is a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan?

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging, and it is a type of medical scan used to produce detailed images of the inside of your body without using ionising radiation. MRI scanners use a strong magnetic field and radio waves to generate high-quality images of your soft tissues, blood vessels and internal organs.

This helps your healthcare professional to provide an accurate diagnosis of health conditions, including soft tissue injuries, joint injuries, cancers such as brain tumours, spinal problems including stenosis and herniated discs, some bone fractures, signs of heart disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and issues with the reproductive organs. MRI images can also help spot diseases in their early stages, to maximise treatment options and support you in your recovery. MRI can also be used for the ongoing monitoring of a condition, as well as checking up on the effectiveness of treatment.

MRI scans aren't suitable for everyone, though - if you have metal objects or metal implants in your body, the magnetic fields of the MRI scanner might mean you cannot have an MRI scan safely. In these cases, a CT scan or ultrasound may provide the necessary information while avoiding any risks posed by the scanner's magnets. The safety questionnaire required to book with us will highlight if you may need a different type of scan based on your medical history.

How can I find the best price for a private MRI scan?

Scan.com makes it easy to find a private MRI scan near you, and compare prices for the type of scan on the part of your body you need. We also provide all of our pricing upfront, so what you see is what you will pay for a complete package of care, that includes a referring clinician phone consultation, a referral letter, your scan, results report, scan images and a follow-up phone consultation.

The easiest way to find out how much a private MRI scan costs near you is by completing a search on our website. This will give you a map view of MRI scanning centres near you, and the cost of each location.

As a marketplace, we work with a network of over 200 imaging centres - the largest in the UK. So, by using our search tool, you'll get a birds-eye view of a range of options to help you make the best choice.

How can I access a private MRI scan if I usually use NHS care?

There's a misconception that if you use private healthcare once, you need to stay within a private pathway and it is separate from your usual NHS GP. This is not the case - your private MRI scan results can be taken to your GP or NHS consultant to access onward care quickly and efficiently.

One barrier to getting a private MRI scan is the need for a medical referral. As MRI scans are a medical procedure with safety considerations to keep in mind, it is important to get guidance from a clinician before having one. But, many people struggle to get a GP referral if they can't get a timely GP appointment, or find that the NHS waiting lists for the type of scan they need are simply longer than they are willing to wait for, especially if they are in severe pain or are extremely worried.

Our guide to MRI scan referrals explains all of the details about referrals, what they mean, and why they're important. But, with Scan.com, you can refer yourself to us, and we take care of all the paperwork needed to get your scan within just 48 hours of booking, all in one place. This reduces the amount of admin you need to do to access an MRI scan.

What MRI scan costs can I expect if I want a private MRI scan?

When you book a private MRI scan with Scan.com, you're paying for a rapid referral, and a medical procedure carried out by highly trained professionals in state-of-the-art MRI machines. The images that are generated also need to be interpreted by consultant radiologists, who are senior doctors specially trained in the interpretation of diagnostic images. Scan.com also provides follow-up consultations to explain your results.

Some specialist scans require particular equipment, specially trained staff, or the use of contrast agents to create the best quality images. Contrast dye for MRI is usually Gadolinium-based, and some providers include this in the cost quoted, while others charge a fee on top, usually upwards of £150, for this to be included.

At Scan.com, your contrast agent is included in the cost of your booking for most scan types that always require it. In some cases, your clinician may recommend a contrast agent based on your individual circumstances during your pre-scan call, where they will let you know any additional costs upfront.

What is included in the cost of MRI scan bookings?

Private healthcare can feel daunting, especially if you're worried that the costs will mount up or that some surprise fees will appear on your bill. Scan.com is against this practice - we provide clear, upfront pricing that has no hidden fees. It's a complete, end-to-end package of care, that includes:

  • A pre-scan initial consultation with an expert clinician to discuss your medical history, scanning requirements, and symptoms.

  • A medical referral, signed by both your consultation clinician and Scan.com's Chief Medical Officer, consultant radiologist Dr Khalid Latief. This means you can do a self-referral to Scan.com, and we then ensure you have a medical referral to get the scan you need.

  • Your scan in a modern MRI machine at a choice of over 160 clinics, with convenient locations near you.

  • Fast MRI scan results delivered digitally, including:

    • A medical report as a PDF that you can share with your GP or healthcare provider.

    • Your scan images for your records or to use in onward care. Sometimes, patients are surprised at how many images an MRI scan can generate - it can be in the thousands! This means the files are extremely large, and are only really required if your healthcare provider asks to see them. Most GPs only need to see the written report to understand the next steps they should take.

    • A patient-friendly interactive report, with clickable diagrams and definitions to help you understand your results with confidence and clarity.

  • A post-scan consultation call with your dedicated clinician, to talk through your results and what to do next.

For some specialist scans, such as Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRI) or prostate gland Multiparametric MRI (MPM) scans, any specialist equipment, contrast material, and specialist reporting are also included in the price you see online.

Why do MRI scans cost more at some centres?

Each individual scanning centre or hospital group sets their own pricing, which we show on our website. Our scan packages include referrals, consultations and exclusive interactive reports, which are factored in to the prices we display.

The cost of the scan itself can vary from location to location. This could depend on:

  • The location of the scanning centre - e.g. some Central London locations may have higher scanning costs based on where they are situated, although some of our London sites have the most competitive rates.

  • The type of machine the centre has. Some of our sites have brand new open or upright machines, or stronger 3T machines, which may be more expensive for the clinic to own and operate, hence a higher price point to book a scan there.

  • Whether the machine is part of a hospital or a standalone diagnostics centre

  • The costs of the healthcare team carrying out the scan and reporting

Our pricing is kept up-to-date and is completely transparent for your convenience.

MRI scans with private medical insurance

If you have a cash plan for your healthcare, such as Simplyhealth you may be able to get a partial or full reimbursement for your diagnostic imaging costs. Scan.com partners with Simplyhealth to offer affordable and accessible imaging to their members. Check your account and policy, or visit the SimplyPlan app to find out more.

If you have private medical insurance, the costs of your MRI scan will likely be covered by your plan. It is worth checking the schedule of cover and policy information documents before you book a scan, to check whether your insurer has a specific list of authorised providers. This is important as it will make sure you avoid any unsuspected bills if you choose an unapproved provider.

If you're with an insurance provider like Axa, Aviva or Bupa, costs for MRI scan procedures can vary depending on the providers they work with, the location you choose, and any policy details such as excesses, limitations and exclusions. If your full scan is covered by your insurer, you may be less worried about the cost of the scan itself as you may only have low, or zero, out of pocket costs.

 

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