How much does an MRI cost in Australia? [2024]

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How much does an MRI cost in Australia? [2024]

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Published in July 2024
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How much does an MRI cost?

Wondering how much does an MRI cost in Australia? Typically, you can expect an MRI scan price to range between $0 and $1,000 or more. According to the Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association, the average MRI cost is $523, while that average gap patients pay after the Medicare rebate is applied is about $200.

The total cost of MRI in Australia will depend on a range of factors, such as whether you qualify for a Medicare rebate or if you can claim MRI on private health.

In this MRI price guide, we explore:

  • What is an MRI scan?
  • What factors affect the cost of MRI scan?
  • How much does an MRI cost?
  • Does private health cover MRI scans?
  • Are MRI covered by Medicare, bulk bill MRI, and more.
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What is an MRI scan

What is an MRI scan?

MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging, is a medical imaging technique used to produce detailed pictures of the internal structures of the body. It uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to generate images of organs, the body’s soft tissues, bones, muscles and other structures inside the body. This non-invasive technique assists in diagnosing various health conditions without the use of ionising radiation.

During an MRI scan, the patient lies down on a movable table that slides into the MRI machine, which is a large, tube-shaped structure that houses a powerful magnet. It’s important to stay as still as possible to ensure clear images.

Radio waves are directed at the body, causing the nuclei of certain atoms to emit signals. These signals are captured by receivers and processed by a computer to generate detailed cross-sectional images of the body. The scan can take anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour, depending on the area being examined and the specific imaging protocol.

Overall, an MRI scan is a safe, non-invasive procedure that provides detailed images to help diagnose and monitor various medical conditions, such as soft-tissue injuries, tumours, infections, and abnormalities in the brain, spine, joints, and internal organs.

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bulk billed MRI near me

What factors affect the cost of MRI scan?

Several factors influence the cost of MRI in Australia, including:

  • Type of MRI scan: Specific body part, such as brain, knee, etc. Complex scans or those requiring contrast agents (dyes) be injected to improve image clarity tend to be more expensive.
  • Public vs. Private: Public hospitals cover MRIs for inpatients, while private imaging centres may charge higher fees.
  • Geographical location: MRI costs can vary depending on the location of the facility, with metropolitan areas potentially having higher costs compared to regional or rural areas. For example, MRI cost in Sydney or Melbourne is typically higher than in Queensland.
  • Referral: Scans referred by a surgeon, specialist or under specific medical conditions might be eligible for Medicare rebates, while GP referrals may not always be covered.
  • Medicare coverage eligibility: Some MRI services are covered by Medicare if they meet specific criteria and are referred by a specialist. Eligible scans can significantly reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients. If the imaging center offers bulk billing and the scan is Medicare-eligible, there may be no out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Private Health Insurance: The extent of coverage depends on the individual’s health insurance policy. Some policies may cover part or all of the cost, while others might not cover MRI scans at all. Even with insurance, there may be a gap fee that the patient needs to pay if the insurance doesn’t cover the full amount.
  • Machine Type: Advanced MRI machines with higher resolution capabilities might be more expensive to use, leading to higher scan costs.

We advise checking with your healthcare provider, imaging center, and insurance company to get a clear understanding of the costs involved and any potential rebates or coverage options.

Looking for a MRI near me in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth or Adelaide?

Does Medicare cover MRI in Australia

How much does an MRI cost?

How much is an MRI in Australia? According to the Department of Heath and Aged Care, the cost of MRI in Australia ranges between $355.45 and $1,269.40, depending on the area of the body being scanned and the reason for the MRI. For instance, a head scan typically costs about $426.50, while a scan to look at problems with the ankle or foot is about $523. These costs are before any rebates or health insurance have been applied.

For a public hospital patient, a MRI scan is a free inpatient service. However, depending on your circumstances, an outpatient will have some out-of-pocket costs involved with getting an MRI scan. In some cases, MRI bulk billing is an option.

Looking for a bulk billed MRI near me in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth or Adelaide?

Does private health cover MRI

Is MRI covered by Medicare Australia?

Does Medicare cover MRI in Australia? Yes, Medicare covers most MRI scans, but specific criteria and conditions must be met for eligibility. The MRI scan must be deemed medically necessary and referred by a specialist or, in certain cases, a general practitioner (GP) under specific conditions.

  • Public patient in a public hospital (no health insurance): Medicare covers the full MBS fee (100%).
  • Out-of-hospital MRI scan with a specialist referral: Medicare covers 85% of the cost.

Medicare covers MRI scans for particular conditions involving the brain, spine, knee, hip, and some other body parts. For example, Medicare covers brain MRIs for conditions like stroke and multiple sclerosis, spinal MRIs for suspected disc herniation, knee MRIs for patients under 50 with suspected internal joint derangement, and breast MRIs in specific cases.

If an MRI scan is Medicare-eligible and the imaging center offers bulk billing, the entire cost of the scan may be covered, resulting in no out-of-pocket expenses for the patient. However, if the MRI does not meet Medicare’s criteria, patients will need to cover the full cost or use private health insurance if available.

Even if there’s a MRI Medicare rebate for part of the cost, there might be a gap fee if the imaging center does not bulk bill. Patients should consult their healthcare provider to determine if their MRI scan is eligible for Medicare coverage and to get the necessary referrals and information.

Looking for a MRI near me in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth or Adelaide?

Can an MRI be bulk billed in Australia

Does private health cover MRI?

Can you claim MRI on private health? Yes, in Australia, you can claim an MRI on private health insurance. The extent of coverage varies depending on your insurance policy. Generally, private health insurance policies are divided into extras cover and hospital cover.

Extras cover typically does not include MRI scans, while hospital cover might provide coverage for MRI scans. This is true especially if they are part of an inpatient service or a pre-admission requirement for a public or private hospital procedure. Get in touch with your health insurer to find out about your MRI coverage.

  • Private patient in a public hospital: Medicare covers 75% of the cost, and your health insurer covers the remaining gap.
  • Private patient in a private hospital: Medicare also covers 75% of the cost, with your health insurer covering the rest.
Want to find a local doctor in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth?

*All prices quoted were sourced from the MBS at the time this cost guide was written and should only be used as an estimate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do pensioners pay for MRI scans?

Whether pensioners pay for MRI scans depends on several factors, including Medicare eligibility, the type of MRI scan, and the specific imaging center. Holding a pensioner concession card may entitle them to discounts at some imaging centers. Some facilities may offer reduced rates or payment plans for pensioners, so it’s worthwhile for patients to inquire about potential discounts.

How much is a MRI scan?

Without Medicare, the cost of an MRI scan ranges from approximately $300 to $1,000 or more. The exact cost depends on the type of scan and the facility. If the MRI scan is eligible for Medicare and the imaging center offers bulk billing, the scan can be free or have minimal out-of-pocket costs.

Can an MRI be bulk billed in Australia?

Yes, an MRI can be bulk billed in Australia, but it depends on several factors, including the type of MRI scan, the reason for the scan, and the specific imaging center. MRI bulk billing is more common in public hospitals and some private imaging centers.

Can you claim MRI on private health?

Yes, in Australia, you can claim an MRI on private health insurance, but the extent of coverage varies depending on your insurance policy and is usually for hospital cover.

How much does a brain MRI cost in Australia?

Brain MRI scan cost in Australia is typically about $426.50 before any rebates are applied. The total MRI price will depend on the specific condition the scan is searching for.

How long does an MRI take?

An MRI scan typically takes between 15 to 90 minutes, depending on the type of scan and the area being examined. Standard scans often last around 30 minutes to an hour, while more complex or detailed scans can take longer.

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