Diagnostic Imaging Referrals for Uninsured Patients
What should physicians do when they suspect a patient needs an expensive diagnostic imaging procedure, but they also know that patient lacks health insurance, or has an inadequate plan? How do they weigh financial considerations against crucial diagnostic information?
As physicians, you balance a huge number of variables in deciding which diagnostic imaging procedures to order for your patients. You must weigh radiation exposure versus probability of actionable images, for instance, or decide whether a patient needs an X-ray, an MRI, or both.
And like it or not, every decision a referring physician makes will have an impact on the patient’s final bill — which becomes problematic, both ethically and medically, given the role financial stress plays in negative health outcomes such as depression.
Lack of Health Insurance and Frequency of Diagnostic Imaging
Here’s what we do know, at least as of the 2012 publication of this study from the Journal of the American College of Radiology: Uninsured Americans received fewer imaging procedures in emergency departments than insured patients. In a sense, this is unsurprising; Americans without health insurance generally receive less health care overall.
What we don’t know is what to do about it. Should we order less imaging for insured patients, or more for uninsured patients? We won’t really know until we can measure the outcomes of uninsured patients who receive equal care. To do that, we must find a way to provide truly affordable diagnostic imaging for all patients. That’s where Precise Imaging can help.
How Physicians Can Reduce the Financial Impact of Imaging on Patients
The ideal situation would be for physicians to have access to imaging centers that offer a full and flexible range of payment options along with the highest-quality service, simple scheduling, and fast results. That’s exactly the combination that Precise Imaging offers to referring physicians.
Precise Imaging operates 70+ locations with evening and weekend hours, so your patients can always find a time and a place that suits them. If transportation is a problem, Precise Imaging can send a car for free. And with same-day scheduling and a 24-hour average turnaround on reports, you’ll have the information you need without delay.
But the real issue for uninsured patients is the financial burden. That’s why Precise Imaging’s experienced billing team is trained and authorized to handle an incredible variety of payment options. For personal injury cases, they can accept liens. If workers’ compensation is involved, that’s no problem.
Precise Imaging even offers special cash prices for uninsured or underinsured patients. Friendly billing staff can also work with payors to establish structured payment plans. These options can create powerful discounts for patients in need, and might be just the assurance that you need to order a procedure you’re on the fence about.
Financial considerations shouldn’t have any place in patient care, but, unfortunately, they are real, and must be considered. Next time you’re weighing the options for an uninsured patient, remember that Precise Imaging can help. Call Precise Imaging at 800-558-2223 to learn more about cash prices for uninsured patients.
Moser, James and Kimberly Applegate. “Imaging and Insurance: Do the Uninsured Get Less Imaging in Emergency Departments?” JACR. Journal of the American College of Radiology, Jan. 2012. Web. 29 Sept. 2017.
Galea, Sandro et. al. “Urban Neighborhood Poverty and the Incidence of Depression in a Population-Based Cohort Study.” ScienceDirect. Annals of Epidemiology, Mar. 2007. Web. 29 Sept. 2017.