Can a non-hospital imaging center cost less than the Emergency Room at a local hospital? Despite old school thinking that insurance policyholders spend less when it comes to health care than out-of-pocket payers, the truth is that patients can save money when they pay upfront.

Let’s say you injure yourself on a weekend night, your family general practitioner isn’t open, and even if they were, your injury appears to be a rather significant broken bone. Primary care physicians usually do not have X-rays or other medical imaging technology on-site for emergencies. They write referrals to an urgent care facility or hospital that does.

Yes, hospitals accept most types of health insurance plans, but even with the hope that your medical issue is covered at least partially by your insurance company, a significant medical bill is awaiting you. Medical centers that don’t accept insurance keep that in mind when pricing procedures like MRI scans and ultrasounds. 

Is paying out of pocket cheaper?

How Emergency Room Costs are Calculated

Mira, a medical insurance provider found that there are five main things that contribute to the cost of a network hospital visit: Total bill consisting of emergency service fees, facility fees, professional fees, supplies, the level of severity of your health concern, and eligibility for charity care programs.

If you do not have an insurance plan, a trip to the ER can cost thousands of dollars because the aforementioned fees add up quickly. Even those that are insured will most likely pay several hundred dollars in bills. In Texas, the average cost of a hospital emergency room visit is $2,300. You’ll leave with a hole in your pocket or a payment plan from the billing department that lasts for years.

The average cost of care has risen over the years resulting in larger deductibles and co-pays. Even those insured are affected. One in five Americans makes a trip to the ER each year, even though there are better options in their local areas. If you don’t have insurance, a non-hospital medical center is a much better choice for minor injuries and acute conditions. 

Is it cheaper to go to the Emergency Room?

Average Cost of Common Medical Imaging Services

Paying out of pocket for an X-ray at a non-hospital imaging center costs around $150. The ER price is anywhere from $250 to $500, depending on the area of the body that is examined. But don’t forget additional, hidden fees that are tacked onto hospital bills. Admin fees, the number of X-rays you get, any additional examinations all add more to the total. Insurance holders’ total fees will take into account their deductibles and co-pays.

An MRI scan at Texas hospitals costs between $400 and $2000 depending on the use of contrast dye. At clinics like NuChoice, that price starts at $200. A huge difference whether you have insurance or not. Unfortunately, there is a percentage of patients that do not get treated every year because the cost of health care is too much for them. Instead of getting the help they need, they see the out-of-pocket prices of hospitals and stay home, in pain. 

Midland Imaging Center StaffMedical Imaging in Midland

Which is Cheaper?

When it comes down to it, your bill, your time, and overall experience with visiting the ER or a non-hospital medical center, it might make more sense for you to choose the non-hospital option. After you pay your bill at the front desk, you never have to worry about setting up a payment plan, seeing bills in the mail, or other unforeseen fees coming up. A one-and-done payment for quality care. 

You are receiving the same quality care at the non-hospital option as many former ER nurses, doctors and staff are now at urgent care facilities. 

Life does not stop for an injury and you should not have to change your schedule for a long day in the ER waiting. At urgent care and non-hospital facilities, the staff will get you in and out with your results in hand and a plan of care set up.