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.
Insights & Solutions
We are committed to helping create a modern, high-performing health system and driving distinguished societal returns by improving health care access and affordability, enhancing the health care experience and achieving better health outcomes for the individuals and organizations we are privileged to serve.