Regardless of the variability involved in providing an accurate cost estimate to a patient, Piedmont realizes the importance of doing so as more people become underinsured through high deductible health plans or have no insurance at all.
The charge of $4183.58 that Piedmont provided to WSB-TV is the accurate amount for a brain MRI without contrast (CPT code 70551). The second estimate provided to WSB-TV was incorrect. Internal communication is underway about routing pricing questions to those with the most experience using our estimator tool. Patients who want to get the most accurate estimate from Piedmont should call Customer Service and Patient Liabilities at 1-855-788-1212 and provide the CPT code for the procedure provided by their doctor as well as information about their insurance coverage (deductibles, co-pays, etc.).
If WSB-TV had not provided the CPT code, the estimate could have ranged between $4,000 and $7,000 depending on how many options the physician wanted covered. It is similar to the fact that the price of a Ford Taurus can be $26,700 or $43,085 depending on how many options are added. The complexity of price estimates increases due to the fact that people who have insurance benefit from a negotiated rate with the hospital, and each patient's insurance situation and benefits are different. Piedmont Healthcare has financial counseling, Medicaid eligibility, payment plans, prompt pay discounts, and charity programs available to assist patients with their financial obligations.