Colorado imaging center aims to offer cost-effective alternative to hospitals

Medical imaging services are often expensive for patients, especially those in a smaller town with fewer options for providers.

In Glenwood Springs, Colorado, though, the new Compass Peak Imaging Center is set to open for customers who have private insurance or pay out of pocket—seeking to bring competition to the region, according to a Post Independent-Citizen Telegram report.

"In this world of high deductibles, whether you have insurance or not you're often paying the first $3,000 to $5,000 of your medical expenses out of pocket," said Jeff Vichick, director of the new for-profit clinic. "The impetus for this project was to see if we can't provide a more cost-effective solution for imaging services in the community."

The facility will operate on a referral basis with local physicians to provide MR, CT, x-ray and ultrasound imaging. However, the center will not take Medicare and Medicaid patients to start and mammograms will not be among the imaging services offered.

According to the story, imaging prices have dropped dramatically in the region, with an MRI at Valley View Hospital, now a competitor to Compass Peak, costing about $995 before insurance—a more than 50 percent drop from prices last summer, said Charlie Crevling, chief financial officer at Valley View to Post Independent-Citizen Telegram.

However, experts in the area have seen patients travel long distances for affordable imaging options and witnessed the success of stand-alone imaging centers in Denver.

"Based on the current offerings in the area, we were seeing that people are leaving town and driving to the Front Range to save money," Vichick said in the report. "There's no way people should have to leave Glenwood to do that."

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