Doctors order medical imaging tests for a variety of reasons. In some instances, they’re genuinely concerned about serious injuries or ailments, but in many cases, x-rays and MRIs are ordered to provide doctors and patients with peace of mind. Furthermore, unbeknownst to many healthcare seekers, not all imaging procedures have to be performed at hospitals. There are a large number of independently-owned facilities that specialize in medical imaging, many of which are every bit as reliable as traditional healthcare providers. The next time your doctor orders an imaging test, remember to take the following factors into account.

1. Affordability

Cost is something that healthcare seekers should carefully consider when weighing their options. This means confirming that your insurance policy covers the test – a task that many hospitals and healthcare facilities will carry out for you. Even if you’re covered by Medicaid, you’ll need to receive confirmation, especially if you live in a state that utilizes Medicaid HMOs. If your policy won’t pay for it, confirm that the facility performing the test will work with you in hammering out a manageable payment plan. Additionally, certain facilities offer discounts to uninsured and underinsured individuals, so if you lack the right type of coverage, don’t be afraid to inquire.

2. Quality

When it comes to medical imaging, clarity is crucial. The clearer the image, the less room for misdiagnosis. With this in mind, look for facilities that utilize cutting-edge x-rays, open MRI scanner and other high-quality pieces of imaging equipment. Weathered, outdated equipment often generates hazy, unclear images – which often results in doctors ordering additional tests, thus costing patients more money.

3. Accessibility

Scheduling an imaging procedure at a traditional healthcare facility can put one’s patience to the test. Getting certain hospitals to agree to a time and date that fits into your personal schedule is often an uphill battle. Conversely, many independently-owned imaging facilities offer far more flexibility on the scheduling front. This is particularly convenient for people with demanding schedules and individuals unable to provide their own transportation.

Getting an x-ray, MRI or any other imaging procedure doesn’t have to be a costly or stressful undertaking – provided, of course, you know what your options are. As much as some hospitals may try to conceal this fact, there are countless medical imaging facilities that operate independently from larger healthcare providers. When weighing your medical imaging options, it’s important to take affordability, quality and accessibility into careful consideration.

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