Kaiser: MRI price, availability, use are highest in US

The U.S. leads 22 comparable countries in MRI price, availability and use, according to a data report published online May 8 by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The report was recently presented at a forum held by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Peterson Center on Healthcare in Washington, D.C.

The average price of a single MRI in the U.S. in 2014 was $1,119, compared to $788 in the U.K. and $215 in Australia, according to the report. Additionally, the national 95th percentile average price of an MRI in the U.S. is $3,031 according to the International Federation of Health Plans as cited by Rabah Kamal and Cynthia Cox from Kaiser.  

In terms of MRI availability, the U.S. came in second to Japan with an average of 39 MRIs available per one million people.  

The U.S. ranked No. 1 of all 22 comparable countries (including Germany, Switzerland, Japan and the Netherlands) in the number of MRIs conducted per 1,000 people, with an average of 118 scans versus the comparable country average of 83 scans.  

"This correlation is not necessarily found in other similarly wealthy countries," Kamal and Cox wrote. "For example, France has a below-average number of MRI units available per million population, but an above-average volume of MRI exams performed. Medical practice patterns or cultural trends driving demand may be contributing to the utilization of medical technology.  

The report also showed that, the U.S. spent 18 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare in 2016, whereas Switzerland (the next highest country) spend 12 percent. In addition, the U.S. spent double on healthcare per person versus other comparable countries ($10,348 versus $5,198).