Unnecessary MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) testing and resultant surgeries are driving up the cost of health care in the United States.
While personalized patient care and physician reimbursements are plummeting, health insurance coverage continues to soar. The cost of radiology, which is expected to keep growing at an annual rate of 20% or higher, is now outpacing the cost of prescription drugs for the first time. At a projected $100 billion annually, diagnostic imaging is one of the fastest growing concern areas in our health care.
Data from IMV Medical Information Division - an Illinois market-research company - strongly suggests that efficient radiology benefit management could cut America's imaging expenditures by $20 billion to $30 billion annually. They concede that about 1/3 of advanced imaging tests are either inappropriate or don't contribute to a physician's diagnosis or ultimate health outcomes.
Treat Patients, Not Tests
Unfortunately, less emphasis is being placed on patient history and physical exams. Taking the time to really listen to a patient is becoming a lost art. Too often patients, not making the connection between the proliferation of technology and rising health care and insurance costs, feel shortchanged if no MRI is prescribed. The reality is that MRIs, which can run between $500 and $1500 a scan, depending on circumstances, inflate our insurance premiums, and the insurance companies' ability to pay for other tests and treatments.
What is the answer? - Education! The key to improving health care while holding down prices is twofold: encouraging consumers to be more involved in decisions regarding their own care, and reminding doctors to combine cutting-edge technology with old-fashioned, personalized service.