The Los Angeles MRI Market: Getting the Best Value for the Lowest Price

In Los Angeles, MRI procedures vary widely in terms of quality and price. Here’s how you can get the best of both worlds.

When your doctor orders diagnostics, you have the right to choose your own service provider — but not all imaging facilities are created equal. Without someone on your side, it can be tough to find the right balance between quality and affordability, especially in the competitive Los Angeles market.

After all, shopping for a health care procedure isn’t the same thing as buying a new car or choosing a brand of breakfast cereal. That doesn’t mean you’re at the mercy of the health care system. You can do a little research before you spend, and by understanding the factors that affect pricing and quality of care, you can find a medical imaging provider in Los Angeles at a reasonable cost.

Los Angeles MRI Prices and Quality Considerations

One thing is clear: Cost and quality aren’t always associated in the healthcare field. However, at the furthest ends of the pricing continuum, there does tend to be some correlation. Boutique medical providers might offer costly amenities to big spenders (although these rarely lead to clinically better outcomes). Similarly, if a price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

You want the lowest price possible for your procedure. Unfortunately, years of competitive price-slashing in the LA market has led some providers to sacrifice quality in favor of affordability. You can absolutely get high-quality, low-cost imaging in Los Angeles — but the lowest price you can find isn’t always the best choice.

There are several common quality issues to watch out for. Here are a few price-slashing strategies we’ve seen in Los Angeles over the past few years:

Open MRI in Los Angeles, CA

Outdated Technology – There are only five manufacturers in the world that produce magnetic resonance imaging machines, and each one of them specializes in certain models. That means there’s not much competition limiting the price tag of a new machine.

A brand new, top-strength machine can easily cost up to $3 million. On the other hand, a used low-field model might only run $150,000.

In order to beat the competition, some providers buy cheaper, used equipment — or even put off updating their machinery entirely. That can lead to serious quality issues in the diagnostic results. Doctors need the clearest, most accurate imaging possible to keep you healthy. No amount of savings is worth sacrificing image quality.

Skimping on the Radiology Report – Writing in the medical journal Applied Radiology, Dr. John Wilcox states that “the written radiology report is the most critical component of the service provided by a radiologist.”

The radiology report is also, unfortunately, one place that discount service providers cut corners. Some imaging operations encourage radiologists to use generic, cookie-cutter reports to limit the time spent preparing this crucial document.

That’s a dangerous practice. As Wilcox points out, “One of the three most common reasons for malpractice suits against radiologists is failure to communicate results clearly and effectively.”

Ask your provider if they use generic radiology reports. If they do, find someone else. You can often get much better results for just a little bit more money, which can have a serious effect on your health going forward.

Failure to Invest in Patient Experience – Good health care providers are patient, compassionate, and understanding. They take the time to talk to clients about their fears and concerns.


On the other hand, some providers follow that old adage about time being money. They hurry patients through their procedures to make room for the next paying customer. That can lead to a poor experience during your procedure, regardless of the diagnostic results. only partners with facilities that show a proven track record of positive patient experiences. No savings are worth the trauma of a bad MRI.

Surprise Scheduling Requirements – Diagnostic pricing should not depend on an inconvenient service schedule. When you see a price you like, ask if it’s attached to any scheduling limitations.

You might find a site that advertises impossibly low prices for an MRI. When you go to book, though, you may be roped into an appointment that’s weeks or months away, often at a bizarre and inconvenient time slot. There’s a term for this tactic: bait and switch.

Note that never changes prices based on schedule. The price you see is the price you get, and you can book your appointment to match your own schedule.

Navigating the Los Angeles MRI Price Scene

So how much does this procedure cost for patients in the Los Angeles area? It’s a simple question, but the answer is anything but. Back in 2014, insurer prices for a lower-back MRI, without contrast, ranged between $467 and $1,567, reports the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Meanwhile, cash prices could be as low as $255 or as high as $6,221, depending on the service provider. Today, prices are still all over the map. In 2017, the health care transparency site Clear Health Costs listed cash prices for contrast-free lower-back MRIs in LA between $278 and $6,221.

What gives?

Well, MRI pricing is part of the perfect storm that is health care spending in the United States. Health care providers set their own prices, and they usually don’t have to explain their rationale. Ditto for doctors.

Add radiologist fees, operational expenses, and the widely varying cost of machines themselves, and you end up with an astounding array of prices for the exact same service.

Luckily, there’s a simple way to find an affordable cash price for high-quality imaging. partners with the exact same facilities, health care providers, and equipment that hospitals use, at a fraction of the cost.

Remember, the lowest price isn’t always the best. It isn’t hard to schedule a high-quality MRI in LA for as low as $315, with or without insurance.  Contact at 888-322-7785 today to find the finest-available imaging for a truly fair price. A Los Angeles MRI procedure does not have to cost a fortune.



72148 MRI – Lower Back/Lumbar Spine W/O Contrast.” ClearHealthCosts. Clear Health Costs, 2017. 1 Feb. 2017.

Aliferis, Lisa. “Variation In Prices For Common Medical Tests And Procedures.” JAMA Internal Medicine 175.1 (2015): 11-12. MEDLINE Complete. Web. 1 Feb. 2017

Glover, Lacie. “Why Does an MRI Cost So Darn Much?Time. Time Inc., 16 July 2014. Web. 1 Feb. 2017.

Wilcox, John. “The written radiology report.AppliedRadiology. Anderson Publishing, 10 July 2006. Web. 1 Feb. 2017.