How Much Does an MRI Cost in Los Angeles?

How much does an MRI cost in Los Angeles, anyway? It’s a simple question, but the answer, unfortunately, is pretty complex.

A string of health care journalists have looked into pricing tiers for MRIs, and they all find an incredible variation in cost. That’s certainly the case in California, where one reporter uncovered a startling range for the same procedure — an MRI of the lower back. This MRI could cost anywhere between $255 and $6,221 Lisa Aliferis reported on NPR.

Other examples of price investigations have turned up a similar range of prices for an identical procedure, sometimes even within the same facility:

    • Lacie Glover of Money magazine reports that, according to Medicare data, an MRI could cost between $474 and $13,259.
    • Kate Ashford wrote in Forbes that her investigation into MRI pricing turned up costs that range between $500 and more than $3,000.
    • Southern California Public Radio asked consumers to report how much they paid for an MRI of the lower back. Listeners responded in huge numbers, populating a database with figures that stretch between $300 on the low end and a maximum of $2,266.

What gives?

Explaining the Price Differences in the Los Angeles MRI Market

In her Money piece, Glover explains the multitude of expenses that go into the price tag of the average MRI. First off, there’s the investment in the MRI machine itself. Medical imaging centers could pick up a used machine for as low as $150,000. If they want to splurge on a brand new high-Tesla machine, they might spend as much as $3 million.

Tack on the construction price of the MRI room and facilities can easily reach $3 million to $5 million dollars. That’s all money the provider will try to recoup by charging the consumer more for every procedure.

To make matters worse, hospitals sometimes use their MRI services as an institutional cash cow. Administrators figure that they can make up the money lost elsewhere with diagnostic imaging. Because there are no laws governing doctor’s fees, the sky’s the limit. Hospitals can, and do, charge whatever they want.

Finding an Affordable MRI in Los Angeles

Given the wide variety of prices you’ll find across the LA metropolitan area, it pays to look around a bit before scheduling your MRI. To find the lowest prices in your area, check the location finder tool.

It lists facilities, which are scattered all over California. Even better, the tool displays prices for common imaging services, allowing you to find the lowest cost on your next MRI or other diagnostic procedure. So how much does an MRI cost in Los Angeles when you don’t want to overpay? Check the location finder, available here, and find out.


Aliferis, Lisa. “In California, That MRI Will Cost You $255 — Or Maybe $6,221.NPR. NPR, 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 9 June 2017.

Ashford, Kate. “What I Learned When I Asked How Much My MRI Would Cost.Forbes. Forbes Media LLC, 31 Oct. 2014. Web. 9 June 2017.

Glover, Lacie. “Why Does an MRI Cost So Darn Much?Money. Time Inc., 16 July 2014. Web. 9 June 2017.

KPCC’s PriceCheck.SCPR. Souther California Public Radio, n.d. Web. 9 June 2017.