So, you need your mammogram. Perhaps your doctor wrote you a prescription for a mammogram. Perhaps you’ve just turned 40 and are due for your first annual screening, or your last screening was at least a year ago, or something warrants further testing.
In any case, you know your mammogram could save your life.
Even if your doctor suggested where to get a mammogram, did you know you can choose for yourself? Keep reading to learn how to choose and avoid hidden fees.
Take your Healthcare into your Own Hands
By law, you don’t need a prescription for a screening mammogram. Yet, some centers require a prescription. Confirm your breast center won’t require a prescription if you don’t have one this year.
Most critically, you need a high quality mammogram and breast ultrasound. While it’s hard to find out which centers do the best job finding problems early, you can ensure your breast center is fully certified by the FDA and American College of Radiology (ACR). The ACR certifies any center that meets their high standards, as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence. Beware; while some certifications are available only to hospitals or independent centers; the ACR certifies excellence regardless of affiliation.
You can confirm mammography technologists are certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and ultrasound techs are certified by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) specifically in breast imaging. The problem is you’d have to search for each individual. The ACR Breast Imaging Center of Excellent certification confirms technologists are specifically certified in breast care.
Confirm your center offers 3D mammograms (Tomosynthesis) to detect problems early. If you have dense breasts, confirm they can perform breast ultrasound screenings that same day. Confirm your breast center will schedule a biopsy without delay, if you need that, and has good relations with top breast surgeons in your area.
Confirm your mammogram will be read by a radiologist who is focuses on breast care. Confirm you can ask questions and can speak to the radiologist who interpreted your mammogram.
Confirm you can get your screening tests (mammogram, ultrasound, Dexa) in one appointment.
Ensure your breast center provides a pleasant, relaxing, and comfortable environment.
Of course, you’ll want to ensure your facility has appointment availability in your chosen time frame, and that the location is convenient.
Facility Fees: the Hidden Cost
If you’re like most Americans, you’re stressed out by healthcare costs. You may wonder where your money is going. Everyone feels ripped off when they are charged unnecessary fees.
Your mammogram and breast ultrasound should not be costly. All insurance policies cover the cost of your annual mammogram in full, with no copay or deductible. If you need other procedures, your insurance company may charge you a copay or deductible. Unfortunately, facilities associated with a hospital can charge a facility fee each time you visit.
The problem? This facility fee may be hundreds of dollars, it may be charged to you, and it may be hard to learn up front what your fee will be.
Originally, facility fees were intended to charge hospital patients the cost of specialized hospital facilities and equipment. Now, patients who never enter a hospital are charged when they use any hospital owned facility. Your OB/GYN or general doctor may not have a large fee, but the facility fee may be hundreds of dollars for a mammogram visit.
Your insurance can pass the facility fee along to you, as a copay or deductible, or they may charge your employer. Some states require hospitals to notify you if they will charge such a fee, but most states (including NJ) don’t require this disclosure.
If the doctor who wrote your mammogram prescription is affiliated with a healthcare system, they may not know about the facility fee. Yet, they may have financial incentives to recommend a facility in their hospital network. While your doctor cannot receive any part of the facility fee, this fee is paid to the hospital owner, who can pay bonuses to doctors whose patients pay facility fees.
Independent facilities, with the same equipment and expertise, can never assess a facility charge.
The important thing is to get your annual mammogram in a center that makes you feel confident, comfortable, and financially respected. Even if you have a prescription, you can choose to go to a mammogram center other than the ones listed on the prescription.
Contact Us Today
Since you now know you can choose where to get a mammogram, take action. Contact Pink today to speak with our staff. We are happy to answer your questions so you know what to expect. Click here to find the Pink location nearest you.