Compare Health Insurance For MRI Scans

Chris Stanley

Chris Stanley

Updated 20/12/2023

Medicare covers most cancer-related treatments up to a point. Private health from Bronze level upwards can help cover gaps and choice of treatment provider.

Compare Health Insurance For MRI Scans

Compare Health Insurance For MRI Scans

Are MRI scans covered by Medicare?

This depends on how you receive your MRI. Whether you’re able to get it done while you’re a hospital impatient can make a big difference to your costs.

Is there a MRI rebate?

For services listed on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), Medicare covers some or all of the costs of:

  • CT scans 

  • nuclear medicine scans 

  • MRI scans 

  • ultrasounds 

  • X-rays. 

Only accredited practices can provide Medicare-eligible services.*   Some MRI units have partial Medicare eligibility and can only perform a small set of specific services listed on the MBS. Diagnostic imaging providers set their own fees. Ask about costs before you finalise your appointment. If your provider chooses to bulk bill you, you won’t pay any out-of-pocket costs. 

Key Points

  • Medicare may cover your MRI scan if it’s ordered by your GP or another recognised medical specialist while you’re a hospital impatient.

  • Diagnostic imaging providers set their own fees and may charge more than Medicare pays. 

  • You will need to cover any out of pocket costs for your MRI.

Does private health cover MRI scans?

If you’re admitted to hospital and you need an MRI scan during your treatment, your private health policy will cover all or part of the gap between what Medicare pays, and the total cost of your MRI scan. 

This is providing your scan is part of a treatment covered by your policy and Medicare Generally though, an MRI is considered an outpatient procedure, which isn't covered by Medicare or private hospital cover. This can mean you'll likely end up paying for your MRI yourself.


Who pays for MRI scans?

Medicare usually covers your MRI scan if it’s ordered by your GP or another recognised medical specialist (like a cardiologist), and your MRI is completed while you’re a hospital inpatient. 

What does an MRI scan cost?

The cost of MRI in Australia varies widely between $200-$1000, but it can be bulk billed and may cost you nothing. Here’s a short summary:

  • Public patient in a public hospital: Medicare can cover 100% of the MBS fee.

  • Private patient in a public hospital: Medicare covers 75% with some or all of the remaining "gap" covered by your health insurer.

  • Private patient in a private hospital: Medicare once again covers 75% with some or all of the remainder paid by your health insurer.

  • Out of hospital MRI scan with specialist referral: Generally not covered. Medicare may cover 85% of the cost if the service is listed in the MBS.

To have your MRI scan covered by health insurance, you'll need hospital cover. Each hospital insurance tier will cover a different set of conditions, so you'll need to have a product that covers your particular issue to be covered.


What to look for re: MRI private health cover:

Sections that include MRI: Look for joint investigation, gastroscopy, diagnostic imaging, health screenings and similar terms. Depending on your particular health issues, you might be able to claim the MRI costs against these treatments. The top level health cover policies often include health screening tests (which can include MRI's).

Exclusions: These are the conditions under which your claim will not be paid. Common exclusions include: 

  • overseas treatment.

  • medically unnecessary scans.

  • scans performed without a doctor's referral.

  • scans not covered by Medicare

Pre-existing conditions: Pre-existing conditions are generally not covered during the first 12 months of holding hospital cover

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is an MRI scan?

MRI machines pass radio waves through your body, some of which are absorbed by your body’s tissue before being retransmitted. By turning the large magnet in a MRI machine on and off, the machine picks up the radio waves you are giving off and uses these to generate a picture of a particular part of your body.

Metallic objects in the vicinity of the machine’s magnetic field can become magnetised  and can be pulled towards the MRI magnet. This can be unsafe.

For example: Wearing a ring into your MRI machine means it will be pulled towards the MRI magnet with such force, you could damage your finger.

Are MRI covered by Medicare?

Medicare and health insurance typically provide coverage for MRI scans when they’re administered within a hospital setting to admitted patients. These are known as inpatient procedures. Conversely, outpatient MRI services may not be covered by Medicare or your private health insurance. Nevertheless, if you’re admitted to a hospital and an MRI scan is deemed necessary, both Medicare and your private health fund may cover your MRI scan cost. 

Are MRI covered by private health insurance?

As long as the specific reason for your scan aligns with items listed on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), even a basic hospital policy may minimise or eliminate your out-of-pocket expenses for this procedure.

If you undergo an MRI scan as a patient in a public hospital within the public healthcare system, you're eligible to request a reimbursement, provided this component of your treatment is approved by Medicare. Alternatively, if you have health cover and choose to be treated as a private patient in either a public or private hospital, Medicare may covers 75-85% of the MBS fee, with part or all of the remainder being covered by your health insurer.

What happens during your MRI?

Before you undergo an MRI procedure, you should receive a thorough briefing from your radiographer. You must remove all metallic objects before undergoing your MRI scan. This includes your rings, earrings and other piercings.

After changing into a gown, you’re asked to lie on a table. This table then passes into the “tunnel” inside the MRI machine, where your scan takes place.

You'll need to lie on the table in the tunnel until your scans are finished. This can take up to an hour. It doesn’t usually hurt. In fact, you’ll likely not feel anything at all, though the machine may make buzzing sounds. Depending on what your doctors are looking for, you could receive a dye injection that helps your scan come out more clearly.

How much does an MRI cost?

MRI out-of-pocket costs vary depending on whether the treatment is covered by Medicare.

Medicare and private health insurance can cover certain MRI scans so while it can be expensive, an MRI is often affordable for many Australians.

The cost of an MRI scan varies greatly depending on which part of your body is being imaged.

Does private health cover MRI?

MRI scans aren’t a clinical category. They're an investigative procedure. If you need an MRI scan for a particular treatment, then Medicare and your private health insurance may cover some of the costs if your policy covers that particular type of illness – for example, cancer.

Does Medicare cover MRI scans in Australia?

Medicare will cover the cost of some MRI scans, depending on the reason for the scan. The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) lists item numbers (conditions) for which benefits can be claimed. 

What hospital treatments may require an MRI scan?

Joint investigations (often done pre-surgery).

  • Gastroscopy

  • Diagnostic imaging

  • Health screenings

Health screenings are preventative measures used to identify potential health issues. Some extras cover includes MRI health screening benefits.

How much is an MRI scan?

MRI scans generally cost between $100 and $1,000, depending on what part of the body needs to be scanned, and your specific condition.

What is the best health insurance for MRI scans?

There is no best health insurance that specifically covers MRI scans. This is because MRI scans are not a treatment category, they're an investigative procedure. If you need an Medicare approved MRI scan for a particular treatment, then your private health insurance may cover some of the cost if your policy covers the particular type of injuries or illness that you're receiving treatment for. Learn more about health insurance for MRI scans.


This guide is opinion only and should not be taken as medical or financial advice. Check with a financial professional before making any decisions.

*We compare products from a panel of trusted health insurers. We do not compare all products in the market. Not all products available from our panel of health insurers are compared and not all products are available to all customers.

Chris Stanley is the sales & operations manager of health insurance at Compare Club. With extensive experience and expertise, Chris is a trusted leader known for his deep understanding of health insurance markets, policies, and coverage options. As the sales & operations manager of health insurance, Chris leads a team of dedicated professionals committed to helping individuals and families make informed decisions about their health insurance needs.

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Chris Stanley

Sales & Operations Manager for Health Insurance