David Rodeck

Controlling Costs: Imaging & Lab Site of Service Costs

If you’re looking for ways to lower expenses in your health insurance plan, lab and imaging tests are a good place to start. Your employees have more control over where and when they take a test compared to other services which gives them options to save money. Here’s how to help your employees better prepare for imaging and lab test costs.

What Are Imaging and Lab Site Services?

Lab tests are when a doctor collects a sample of blood, urine, hair, or body tissues so it can be analyzed by a technician. Imaging services create a picture of what is going inside your body. X-rays, MRIs, and Ultrasounds are examples of imaging services. Both types of tests are necessary for identifying medical problems and keeping your employees healthy.

These tests come at a cost. When employees take a test, they may need to pay a deductible or copayment and over time these costs can add up to hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per year. Also, if employee medical expenses are too high, your plan premiums could go up. That’s why it’s so important for your employees to manage imaging and lab test costs.

Step 1 – Look for Lower Cost Services

Lab and imaging tests are standardized and give the same result regardless of where they are performed, yet there can be huge price differences between providers. For example, a basic lipid panel blood test can cost anywhere from $10 to $200, even though the results will be the same, according to Time.

Lab test costs tend to be lower when they are performed by an independent provider who is outside the doctor’s office or the hospital. Your employees should get price quotes from outside labs or imaging test sites before signing up for lab tests at the doctor’s office.

Your insurance company may provide a list of recommended test sites for your employees. Some insurance companies also offer cash rewards for policyholders who save money by using lower cost lab and imaging tests.

Step 2 – Avoid Unnecessary Tests

Not all lab and imaging tests are useful. Your employees might be wasting money if they take tests too often, take tests that aren’t necessary for their age/health, or take tests that have no proven medical benefit.

Choosing Wisely, an independent medical research group, came up with the five most common tests that many people don’t even need. For example, imaging tests for lower back pain are usually unnecessary unless a patient is showing signs of a deeper problem such as spine abnormalities. In most cases, the patient just has to wait to recover on their own and imaging tests will reveal no new information.

Knowledge is power in avoiding unnecessary costs. Equip your employes with information about common unnecessary lab and imaging tests.

Step 3 – Save for Deductibles and Other Costs

Employees may have to pay out-of-pocket costs for lab and imaging tests. Check with your insurance company to see if they provide a list of average costs in your area so your employees can budget accordingly.

If your organization offers a Health Savings Account (HSA), remind employees that they can put pre-tax money into these accounts for future medical bills. This way they lower their taxes while preparing for future lab test costs.

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By following this advice, your employees will continue receiving the lab and imaging tests they need while keeping costs under control for everyone else in your plan.

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