Insurers, the organizations that pay for the vast majority of MRI exams in the US, have been incrementally cutting the prices that they’ll pay hospitals and imaging centers for MRI studies. To a degree, this has been in response to ever-growing MRI scan volumes, which have lead to some economies of scale. A few years ago, Medicare / Medicaid switched from taking incremental nibbles off of the reimbursement rate, to lopping off a huge chunk with the budgetary equivalent of a machete, called the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA). Many commercial insurers followed suit.
The accumulated reimbursement cuts from the whole cadre of insurers has taken years following the initial enactment of the DRA to reach its full effect, just in time for the bottom to drop out of the broader economy. Now MRI providers are not only getting paid less for each exam, with many patients having to fork-over a 20% copay for the cost of their MRI exam, the number of patients walking in the door has also dropped.
A trend that began with the enactment of the DRA a few years ago may actually be building momentum, namely cutting staff, or cutting staff qualifications, to reduce the operating expenses of an MRI operation. Source
These reductions may be the worst thing for any hospital or outpatient center. Your greatest asset is The MRI technologist. The technologist understands MRI Safety at a level unparalleled to any one else in the diagnostic imaging environment. As the level of training decreases of staff the level of MRI safety accidents will continue to rise inversely proportionally. This is exactly why there has been a 277% rise in reported accidents.
This may seem a little over-simplified evaluation of a very complicated matter. However, the economy does correlate to the dramatic rise in MRI safety accidents. I can only put the pieces together. If cut backs are hurting health care at the patient level, where safety is concerned it is time to step in and make some drastic changes. Please let me know how you feel about this……