Aching Shoulder? Get an MRI Referral Online.
When your shoulder (or back, ankle, or knee) is injured, naturally you'll want to know how badly it's damaged and whether surgery is needed. A magnetic resonance image (MRI) can provide those answers.
Pros of an MRI:
- No radiation (unlike x-rays). An MRI uses a magnetic field and sound waves.
- It provides sharper, more clearly defined images of the body compared to an x-ray.
Cons of an MRI
- It's noisy. But centers may supply earplugs.
- It takes longer than an x-ray.
- If you don't care for tight spaces, you'll have to find an open MRI center.
Many patients will opt for an MRI, despite the cons because the end result is a clearer picture of what's going on with the body. Clearer, more definitive answers may seem like a no-brainer. But then there's insurance.
Because they cost a minimum of $1000 (compared to an average of $300 for an x-ray), an insurance company may refuse to cover the test. The normal path to an MRI:
- Make an appointment with your primary care doctor. This very rarely occurs within the same week of your call; weeks or nearly a month may pass.
- See primary care doctor. This usually requires taking a few hours off from work since evening and weekend hours are rare. If the practice is large, plan on up to two hours in the waiting room.
- In your 15 minutes with the doctor, review the injury and convince the doctor that the x-ray taken last month wasn't enough and that an MRI would really be better.
- Once convinced, the doctor's office may need to get a prior authorization from your insurance company.
- Wait on the insurance company's decision. This may take a week or more.
- If authorization is given, schedule the MRI. This may be days or weeks down the road.
- Take off more time from work to have the MRI done.
A month or more is a long time to wait when in pain and/or anxiety over an injury. As a member of CirrusMED, you can enjoy a more streamlined path to an MRI:
- Fill out intake forms.
- An imaging order is sent to the center of your choice within one day.
- You go and get your MRI. This is the only time that you have to take a few hours off from work.
- Get answers to your questions much sooner rather than later. Results are sent electronically with an option to an online consult with a U.S.-based, board-certified physician.
Going through your insurer is optional but may be ideal if you're in a high-deductible plan. But many imaging centers offer cash discounts which can cost less than co-insurance fees. Compare out-of-pocket costs at affordablescan.com, bestpricemri.com, or precisemri.com. Eliminating the insurance middle-person quickly gets you treated and set on an optimal recovery course. And since the only in-person visit is for the test itself, you give up less of your leave time.