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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont ends prior authorization for MR scans at Open MRI

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | February 05, 2024
Insurance MRI
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont has removed its prior authorization requirement for MR scans at Open MRI.
Patients in Vermont and New Hampshire covered under Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont can now immediately undergo MR scans at outpatient radiology practice Open MRI in both states without requiring prior authorization, giving them access to exams that are four times less expensive than what they would be at other medical sites.

As of February 1, the health insurer says prior approval is no longer needed for imaging at Open MRI, which charges $1,099 for non-contrast examinations and $1,799 for examinations requiring a contrast injection. These prices include the radiologist’s interpretation and are the lowest in the region, by up to 75%. Depending on insurance, these rates can amount to less than $500 in out-of-pocket costs for patients, according to Open MRI's website.

“By removing prior authorization requirements for services at Open MRI, we are supporting Vermonters to access a lower cost service that can cut the line on long wait times,” said Dr. Tom Weigel, chief medical officer at Blue Cross VT, in a statement.
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Further ensuring quick access is Open MRI’s schedule, which includes extended hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and occasional work on Sundays.

At its Vermont facility, the company has a Hitachi Oasis 1.2T True Open MR Scanner installed in 2021 that includes advanced magnet design, Zenith RF Technology, and standard Oasis gradients that facilitate rapid acquisition of high-resolution images.

It also recently completed the installation of its Siemens Healthineers Verio 3T closed wide-bore MR scanner in November 2023 to keep up with demand and provide results fast to referring specialists. The scanner has a 70-cm bore and is equipped with dedicated syngo MR applications, allowing for remote guidance from more experienced radiological technologists in other locations. The solution is designed for neurology, orthopedics, cardiology, oncology, angiography, women's health, pediatrics, and body imaging.

The New Hampshire location also has an open MR system.

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