Does Medicare Cover MRIs?

Original Medicare — Medicare Part A and Part B — covers 80% of an MRI’s cost if the health care providers involved accept Medicare. You’ll be responsible for 20% of the cost and your deductible. But having a Medigap policy or Medicare Advantage plan may reduce your out-of-pocket costs.

Terry Turner, writer and researcher for RetireGuide
  • Written by
    Terry Turner

    Terry Turner

    Senior Financial Writer and Financial Wellness Facilitator

    Terry Turner has more than 35 years of journalism experience, including covering benefits, spending and congressional action on federal programs such as Social Security and Medicare. He is a Certified Financial Wellness Facilitator through the National Wellness Institute and the Foundation for Financial Wellness and a member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE®).

    Read More
  • Edited By
    Matt Mauney
    Matt Mauney, Senior Editor for RetireGuide

    Matt Mauney

    Financial Editor

    Matt Mauney is an award-winning journalist, editor, writer and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience working for nationally recognized newspapers and digital brands. He has contributed content for,, The Hill and the American Cancer Society, and he was part of the Orlando Sentinel digital staff that was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2017.

    Read More
  • Reviewed By
    Aflak Chowdhury
    Aflak Chowdhury

    Aflak Chowdhury

    Medicare Expert

    Aflak Chowdhury is a Medicare expert and independent insurance broker specializing in group health insurance. He has worked for major providers including Humana and Principal Financial Group and today works mainly in the small group market.

    Read More
  • Published: February 26, 2021
  • Updated: October 27, 2023
  • 6 min read time
  • This page features 12 Cited Research Articles
Fact Checked
Fact Checked

A licensed insurance professional reviewed this page for accuracy and compliance with the CMS Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines (MCMGs) and Medicare Advantage (MA/MAPD) and/or Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDP) carriers’ guidelines.

Cite Us
How to Cite's Article

APA Turner, T. (2023, October 27). Does Medicare Cover MRIs? Retrieved April 17, 2024, from

MLA Turner, Terry. "Does Medicare Cover MRIs?", 27 Oct 2023,

Chicago Turner, Terry. "Does Medicare Cover MRIs?" Last modified October 27, 2023.

Why Trust
Why You Can Trust Us

Content created by RetireGuide and sponsored by our partners.

Key Principles

RetireGuide’s mission is to provide seniors with resources that will help them reach important financial decisions that affect their retirement. Our goal is to arm our readers with knowledge that will lead to a healthy and financially sound retirement.

We’re dedicated to providing thoroughly researched Medicare information that guides you toward making the best possible health decisions for you and your family.

RetireGuide LLC has partnerships with Senior Market Sales (SMS) and GoHealth.

Our partners are able to be reached through the phone numbers and/or forms provided on our website.

The content and tools created by RetireGuide adhere to strict Medicare and editorial guidelines to ensure quality and transparency.

Editorial Independence

While the experts from our partners are available to help you navigate various Medicare plans, RetireGuide retains complete editorial control over the information it publishes.

We operate independently from our partners, which allows the award-winning RetireGuide team to provide you with unbiased information.

Visitors can trust our inflexibility regarding our editorial autonomy. We do not allow our partnership to influence RetireGuide’s editorial content whatsoever.
MRI Coverage at a Glance
Medicare PlanMRI Coverage
Part A (Inpatient)MRIs are covered if ordered as part of an inpatient hospital stay.
Part B (Outpatient)Covers 80% of non-laboratory MRI costs if you meet coverage criteria.
Part C (Medicare Advantage)Costs for MRIs vary by plan.
Part D (Prescription Drugs)N/A
Supplemental InsuranceCan help cover out-of-pocket costs related to MRIs. Coverage varies by plan.

How Much Does Medicare Pay for an MRI?

Medicare will cover a portion of the cost of an MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, scan in certain circumstances. But the MRI must meet three criteria.

Criteria for Medicare Coverage of an MRI
  • Your MRI is a necessary diagnostic test to determine your treatment for a medical condition.
  • The MRI was ordered by a doctor who accepts Medicare.
  • The MRI is performed in a hospital, ambulatory center or other facility that accepts Medicare

Your out-of-pocket cost will vary depending on what type of Medicare coverage you have.

If you have Original Medicare, Medicare pays for 80% of the costs if you meet all criteria.

When a Doctor May Order an MRI

MRIs are widely used around the world to diagnose a wide range of medical issues. A doctor may order an MRI to diagnose or rule out a particular medical condition.

Conditions MRIs May Help Examine, Diagnose or Rule Out
  • Abdominal organ abnormalities or diseases
  • Brain or spinal cord anomalies
  • Breast cancer in women at high risk
  • Heart conditions
  • Joint injuries or abnormalities
  • Liver diseases
  • Tumors, cysts or other abnormalities

MRIs differ from X-rays and CT scans in that they do not use ionizing radiation. Instead, an MRI uses a combination of an electromagnet, radio waves and a computer working together to create a detailed, cross-sectional image of the inside of your body.

According to 2022 data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development — OECD — there were 108 MRI exams performed in the U.S. for every 1,000 people in the previous year.

What Are Your Costs for an MRI Under Medicare?

If you have Original Medicare, you will be responsible for 20% of the MRI’s cost. Your Medicare Part B deductible — $240 in 2024 — will also apply. If you have a Medigap policy or a Medicare Advantage plan, you may have to pay less.

If you had Original Medicare in 2022, the average out-of-pocket expenses for an unlisted — diagnostic or interventional — MRI came to $8 if done in an ambulatory surgery center and $16 if done in a hospital outpatient setting, according to Medicare’s Procedure Price Lookup tool. The type of MRI and part of the body being scanned affect the actual out-of-pocket cost.

The estimate included both facility and doctor fees, but if you have additional doctors you may have to pay more.

How Much Do MRIs Cost?
Without Medicare or other health insurance, an MRI scan can be expensive. The average price of an MRI in 2022 ranged from $400 to $12,000.
Source: GoodRx Health

Medigap policies are sold by private insurance companies. They fill in the “gaps” that Original Medicare does not cover — such as copayments, coinsurance and deductibles.

Medicare Advantage plans are also sold by private insurers. They must cover everything Original Medicare covers, but they may offer additional benefits.

You should check with your Medicare Advantage or Medigap administrator to see what your specific plan covers.

Have you selected your 2024 Medicare plan?
Maximize your Medicare savings by connecting with a licensed insurance agent. Annual Enrollment is open until December 7th.

Does Medicare Cover CT Scans and Other Diagnostic Scans?

Medicare classifies MRI scans as “diagnostic nonlaboratory tests” which are covered under Medicare Part B medical insurance.

These include a variety of tests that your doctor may order to diagnose or rule out a suspected illness or medical condition. Medicare covers 80% of the cost of diagnostic nonlaboratory tests, like MRIs, when ordered by a doctor who accepts Medicare.

Other Diagnostic Nonlaboratory Tests Medicare Covers
CT Scans
Computed tomography (CT) scans use X-rays and a computer to create a picture of your bones, organs and other tissue. CT scans can be used to examine just about any part of your body and can find fractures, tumors and complex medical conditions such as cancer or heart disease.
Electrocardiograms — also called EKGs and ECGs — measure the electrical activity of your heartbeats. This electrical impulse causes your heart to squeeze and pump blood. An EKG can determine if you have a fast, slow or irregular heartbeat and can help a doctor tell if you have other heart problems.
X-rays — also called radiography — are a form of radiation that can pass through your body and create photographic images of your internal bones, organs and other tissue. They are used to look for bone fractures, while chest x-rays are used to diagnose pneumonia. Mammograms use X-rays to find breast cancer.
PET Scans
Positron emission tomography — or PET — scans use a radioactive drug to see how your organs and tissue are functioning. The drug, called a tracer, can be swallowed, injected or inhaled. It collects in areas of your body with higher levels of chemical activity. Affected areas show up as bright spots on the scan. PET scans are used to look for cancer, heart problems and brain disorders.

Medicare beneficiaries pay 20% of the Medicare-approved costs for these types of tests if they are done in your doctor’s office or in a testing facility. You also have to pay your Medicare Part B deductible.

If you have the tests done in a hospital outpatient setting, you also have to pay a copayment out of your pocket for diagnostic nonlaboratory tests.

In addition, Medicare covers certain preventive services — tests and screenings — that can help find or prevent a medical issue.

FAQs About Medicare Coverage of MRIs

Does Medicare cover routine MRIs for cancer patients?
Medicare Part B will cover 80% of the cost of an MRI if it is medically necessary for any reason — including for cancer treatment. You are responsible for your deductible — $240 in 2024 — before Medicare starts paying. You also have to pay 20% of the MRI cost out-of-pocket.
Is there a law to reduce unnecessary MRIs, CT scans and other expensive diagnostic imaging tests before Medicare will pay?
The Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) of 2014 requires doctors to consult clinical guidelines before Medicare will pay for an MRI or other diagnostic scans. It was supposed to go into effect in 2020, but it remains in an “Educational and Operations Testing Period” in early 2023 and has not been implemented.
Does Medicare require prior authorization for MRIs?
Medicare will not cover an MRI if it does not receive prior authorization from your doctor or other health care provider. As a matter of Medicare basics, it will not pay for an MRI if the doctor or other health care provider does not accept Medicare.
Never Miss Important News or Updates with Our Weekly Newsletter
Get money-saving tips, hard-to-find info and tactics for a successful retirement in our free weekly newsletter.
Last Modified: October 27, 2023

12 Cited Research Articles

  1. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2023, October 12). 2024 Medicare Parts A & B Premiums and Deductibles. Retrieved from
  2. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2022). Costs. Retrieved from
  3. OECD. (2022). Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Exams. Retrieved from
  4. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2022). Unlisted Magnetic Resonance Procedure (eg, Diagnostic, Interventional). Retrieved from
  5. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2020, November 5). X-Rays. Retrieved from
  6. Ledbetter, S. (2020, April 2020). Does Medicare Cover MRI Scans? Retrieved from
  7. GE Healthcare. (2019, July 25). How Much Does an MRI Cost? Retrieved from
  8. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2018, April 10). National Coverage Determination (NCD) for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (220.2). Retrieved from
  9. American Heart Association. (2015, July 31). Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). Retrieved from
  10. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). MRI Scan of Brain Before and After Contrast. Retrieved from
  11. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Diagnostic Non-Laboratory Tests. Retrieved from
  12. Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Positron Emission Tomography Scan. Retrieved from