New Research Reveals Savings Opportunities for Diagnostic Imaging

November 17, 2020 | 3 min Read

Why It Matters

Improving affordability is key to creating a modern, high-performing health system that works better for everyone. Findings from new UnitedHealth Group research reveal that 70% of routine diagnostic imaging tests performed annually in hospital outpatient departments are for non-complex, commercially insured individuals who have access to lower-cost, diagnostic imaging facilities close to home. Selecting the optimal site of care for diagnostic imaging would:

  • Reduce costs for consumers and employers.
  • Lower denial rates that could delay patients’ access to care.
  • Decrease the administrative burden on providers seeking approval.

The high price of diagnostic imaging in hospital outpatient departments compared to stand-alone imaging centers or physician offices.


High Cost of Diagnostic Imaging in Hospitals

In 2019, the average price for a routine diagnostic imaging test performed in a hospital outpatient department was $1,855 — 165% more than the price of the test performed in stand-alone imaging centers or physician offices.

Routine diagnostic imaging tests include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); computerized axial tomography (CT) scan of the abdomen, chest, head, and other body parts; CT angiography of the neck; diagnostic cardiac catheterization; contrast aortogram; and low dose CT scan for lung cancer screening.

The bottom line ...

Shifting diagnostic imaging tests for non-complex, commercially insured individuals to lower-cost imaging centers or physician offices would:
•  Reduce spending by 62%

•  Save consumers with commercial insurance $312 on average per test


UnitedHealthcare Helps Patients Save on Diagnostic Imaging

UnitedHealth Group has a long-standing commitment to making health care more affordable for everyone. Our UnitedHealthcare business has launched an initiative for imaging that uses site-of-service reviews to determine where patients need their diagnostic imaging performed — in a hospital outpatient department or in a lower-cost, high-quality freestanding center — to ensure consumers have affordable and convenient options.

read the full report

Consumers Can Save More than $300 per Diagnostic Imaging Test

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