Understanding MRI

Understanding MRI

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is one of the most advanced and useful tools in Medical Imaging. It is also the most strictly governed modality in terms of Government regulations, Medicare funding and patient rebates.

The Federal Government has adopted very firm guidelines and stipulations, not only as to which MRI Scanners can attract a Medicare rebate, but also the type of examinations and specific conditions that can be scanned and which specific Doctors can refer.

In South Australia, of the 31 MRI scanners currently available to the public, only 9 in the metropolitan area and 3 in rural areas attract a full Medicare rebate (4 of which are in the public hospital system: the Royal Adelaide Hospital, Flinders Medical Centre, the Women’s and Children’s Hospital and the Lyell McEwin Hospital). These 9 scanners attract a Medicare rebate of up to 85% of the charged fee, which is typically anywhere between $580 and $800 and is only applicable if the patients are referred by a specialist doctor, not a GP, and only for certain body parts for certain conditions. These 9 scanners which are often referred to as “fully licenced” or “fully funded” MRI scanners were among the original scanners installed when Medicare rebates were introduced. The historical granting of licences to this limited number of scanners has remained status quo and currently no opportunity exists for practices or new installations to apply for Medicare eligibility. This policy has been implement by the Federal Government to control Medical Imaging expenditure and fit within budgetary constraints.

Of the remaining scanners, some attract a Medicare rebate, but only for very limited types of examinations and only if the patient is referred by a GP, not a specialist or other healthcare provider. These machines are sometimes referred to as “partially licenced” or “partially funded”.

The MRI scanner at Fowler Simmons Radiology like many scanners does not currently attract a Medicare rebate. As such, the fee charged for a MRI scan is very competitive and comparable to the out of pocket expense most patients incur on a Medicare “fully funded” MRI scanner.

It must also be noted that the terms Medicare licenced or Medicare funded does not reflect or is in no way determined by the accreditation or expertise of any practice and is simply a term used by Medicare to describe Government funding/rebates for these examinations.

MRI examinations at Fowler Simmons are performed on modern advanced equipment by experienced Musculoskeletal MRI Radiographers and reported and interpreted by Adelaide’s leading Musculoskeletal Radiologist.