Anthem in Ohio Urges Patients to "Shop" for Diagnostic Imaging

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Patients are increasingly asked to play a role in lowering the cost of medical imaging. However, without easy access to information about cost and quality, selecting the best diagnostic imaging provider is difficult if not downright impossible.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield seeks to close this information gap for its Ohio members with a new program called the Radiology Imaging Shopper. When a patient is referred for a radiology procedure, he or she receives a call about a lower cost alternative. Since patient co-pays are often based on a percentage of the total cost of the procedure, choosing a lower-cost provider can save the patient money.

Mark Grossman, chief operating officer for Proscan Imaging with 24 centers in seven states including Ohio, says the Anthem initiative has led to a “significant” increase in imaging referrals to Proscan centers.

“Anthem has recognized that there is a disparity in the cost of imaging at hospital-based facilities and free-standing facilities,” Grossman says. “We offer a high quality, low cost alternative. Because of that, we’ve been the recipient of exams we may not have done otherwise.”

Numerous studies and anecdotal reports have noted disparities in the cost of medical imaging between different providers serving the same community. Grossman says a hospital-based facility can be 50 to 80 percent more expensive than a freestanding center.

“It comes down to patients having to realize that it’s their money and their choice where they receive imaging services,” Grossman says.

For more information about the Anthem imaging shopper program click here.