July 20, 2018

For an MRI, average Worcester County expense is lowest in Mass.

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Worcester County has the lowest average out-of-pocket costs for an MRI, according to a sample of hospitals across the state by the Pioneer Institute.

Few people are likely to look at a medical bill and be pleased with how little they have to pay.

In Worcester County, at least, patients can know that costs could be far worse not too far away — when it comes to an MRI, anyway.

Worcester County has the lowest average out-of-pocket expenses for an MRI, according to a sample of about two dozen hospitals statewide by the Pioneer Institute in Boston.

The average out-of-pocket expense in Worcester County was $59.60. That is far less than in some parts of the state, where costs vary greatly.

In Berkshire County, average costs were $175.74, the highest in the state. In Franklin County, they were $136.02. Middlesex County averaged $91.66, which was more in the middle of the pack.

The allowed amount, which represents the total price contractually agreed to between specific insurers and providers, was also lowest in Worcester County, at just $213.43.

"In other words," the Pioneer Institute said, "it appears that patients receiving care in Worcester are paying less on average and getting a better overall deal."

The Pioneer Institute didn't exactly know why there's such variation, or why costs were higher in rural counties or places like Suffolk County, which includes Boston, which the think tank said calls into question how competitive the market is in the state's largest city.

"Understanding the cause of these dynamics is extremely tricky," The institute said.

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