When you receive a prescription, where you get it filled is up to you!
For many of us when we go to the doctor and are handed a prescription for lab work, imaging or additional services we go where the doctor tells us to get the work done. In fact, often the prescription itself points you to the place to make an appointment. In regards to medications most of us know that you can take that prescription to any pharmacy to get it filled. In fact, the doctor often asks what pharmacy they should call the script into.
So why does this thought process not translate to other services such as imaging or lab work? There are several reasons, let me explain. For one, if a doctor’s practice is owned by a hospital group such as Bay Care then they are going to be encouraged by management to point patients to Bay Care imaging facilities, labs, etc. It makes sense, why would Publix sell you produce and then encourage you to order your cake from the neighborhood bakery? If they can perform the service then why not stay in house to get the service you require. It may make sense for the business but does it make sense for you as the patient or consumer?
This may not seem like a big deal to you if you are handing the bill to your insurance company to pay. But if you are paying the bill then you better do your homework and shop around, just as you would for the best prescription price. For example, if you fail to shop for an MRI your doctor orders it could cost you hundreds if not thousands more. Hospitals and hospital imaging facilities charge anywhere from $1,200 to $3,000 for an MRI, whereas private facilities charge $400-$500 on average. But if you shop further you will find discount facilities that do not accept insurance and therefore can lower its prices further. Affordable Medical Imaging charges just $275 for the same MRI. Upon a closer look you will find they even offer payment plans making the procedure even more affordable.
Is it equal service? Absolutely! Affordable Medical Imaging performs its tests at a fully accredited facility by certified and licensed technicians. It is owned and operated by a local family with more than 40 years experience and all of the exams are read by Board Certified Radiologist. In fact, often the standards are tougher for independent facilities as opposed to hospitals. So yes, the service is equal if not superior to more expensive hospital run imaging facilities.
Secondly, if your doctor hands you a prescription for an imaging facility called Facility One, you should understand why they are recommending that facility over another. It may be a perfectly fine facility but are they recommending that facility because it is in your best interest or theirs? What they may not tell you is there is a partnership or an agreement between the doctor and Facility One, or the doctor may even be part owner of Facility One, or in extreme cases maybe Facility One just treated the doctor’s family to a Bahamas Cruise vacation. You will never know so be sure to ask questions, do your homework and shop for the best service for your needs and your budget.