How much does an MRI cost?

An MRI could range from $0 up to $500, depending on your patient status and particular medical condition.

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Undergoing a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan can be a daunting experience, but this painless test is an important diagnostic tool used to help investigate a wide range of conditions and ailments that can be, depending on the circumstances, covered by both Medicare or health insurance.

How much does an MRI cost?

Although the total cost of an MRI scan varies depending on the part of the body being imaged, costs generally range from $100 to $500. This is much better than in many overseas countries, where this procedure can cost several thousands of dollars. Additionally, both Medicare and Australian private health funds (in some cases) can pay towards the cost of the MRI scan.

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MRI cost: Medicare vs private health insurance

Whether you are going the Medicare or health insurance route, always be sure to check that your treatment is covered or whether you will need to pay any upfront costs. Here are some of the ways these costs will be calculated:

  • Public patient in a public hospital (no health insurance): Medicare covers 100% of the cost.
  • Private patient in a public hospital: Medicare covers 75% with the remaining "gap" covered by the health fund.
  • Private patient in a private hospital: Medicare once again covers 75% with the remainder paid by the health fund.
  • Out of hospital MRI scan with specialist referral: Medicare covers 85% of the cost.

Does Medicare cover MRI in Australia?

Medicare will cover the cost of some MRI scans, depending on the reason for the scan. The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) lists item numbers (conditions) for which benefits can be claimed. The table below lists the

Item numberPurpose of the scanFee chargedMedicare benefit
63551

Head scan for a patient 16 years or older to investigate:

  • Unexplained seizures
  • Unexplained chronic headaches with suspected intracranial pathology
$403.20

75%: $302.40
85%: $342.75

63554

Spinal scan for a patient 16 years or older for suspected cervical radiculopathy$358.40

75%: $268.80
85%: $304.65

63557

Spinal scan for a patient 16 years or older for suspected cervical spine trauma$492.80

75%: $369.60
85%: $418.90

63560

Knee scan for a patient 16 years or older following acute knee trauma with:

  • Inability to extend the knee suggesting the possibility of acute meniscal tear
  • Clinical findings suggesting acute anterior cruciate ligament tear
$403.20

75%: $302.40
85%: $342.75

63507

Head scan for a patient under 16 years for any of the following:

  • Unexplained seizures
  • Unexplained headaches where significant pathology is expected
  • Paranasal sinus pathology, which has not responded to conservative treatment
$403.20

75%: $302.40
85%: $342.75

63510

Spinal scan for a patient under 16 years following radiographic examination for:

  • Significant trauma
  • Unexplained neck or back pain with associated neurological signs
  • Unexplained back pain where a significant pathology is suspected
$448.00

75%: $336.00
85%: $380.80

63513

Knee scan for a patient under 16 years following radiographic examination for internal joint derangement$403.20

75%: $302.40
85%: $342.75

63516

Hip scan for a patient under 16 years following radiographic examination for:

  • Suspected septic arthritis
  • Suspected slipped capital femoral epiphysis
  • Suspected Perthes disease
$403.20

75%: $302.40
85%: $342.75

63519

Elbow scan for a patient under 16 years following radiographic examination where a significant fracture or avulsion injury is suspected that will change management$403.20

75%: $302.40
85%: $342.75

63522

Wrist scan for a patient under 16 years following radiographic examination where scaphoid fracture is suspected$448.00

75%: $336.00
85%: $380.80

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