Understanding Your Health Insurance

Advanced Imaging Center has on-staff insurance specialists whose job is to guarantee your insurance questions are answered before you undergo any procedure.

When you’re concerned about your health or the health of a loved one, your focus is on getting the answers you need. The last thing you want to worry about is the ins and outs of health insurance. Advanced Imaging Center has on-staff insurance specialists whose job is to guarantee your insurance questions are answered before you undergo any procedure.

Here are some frequently asked questions our other insurance specialists often field from patients:

What Does it Mean to be In-Network or Out-Of-Network?

In simple terms, in-network refers to a hospital, clinic, or provider that has a contract with your insurance carrier to provide services at a discounted rate. Using an in-network provider typically provides you more benefits, including a lower co-pay, deductible, or other out-of-pocket costs.

Out-of-network means the hospital or clinic or provider you are seeing does not contract with your insurance company for a discounted rate. You can still get care from an out-of-network provider, but it typically means higher out-of-pocket costs for you than if you are receiving care or services from an in-network provider.

If you have a question as to whether a specific hospital, clinic, or provider is in-network, call your insurance provider or refer to their website. Remember, it is always your choice where you get your care.

Ascend Imaging Center accepts most major insurance plans, including auto accidents, workers’ compensation, and government-funded programs. In most cases, we are an in-network provider, but please refer to your health plan information, or call ahead to confirm your coverage and if you need to receive prior authorization.

What Does Prior Authorization Mean?

Prior authorization is a requirement from your health insurance company that your provider obtain approval from your plan before it will cover the costs of a specific medicine, medical device, or procedure. Many insurance companies require some kind of prior authorization for medical imaging exams such as an MRI or CT scan. Our insurance specialists will work with your insurance company directly to obtain prior authorization for your procedure.

Can I Get An Estimate in Advance?

If you want to know the cost of an MRI, CT, or other procedure before your appointment, call us and ask for an insurance specialist. We are happy to provide a personalized price estimate based on your coverage. You will need the name of your referring provider, the type of exam, and your insurance information. Ascend Imaging believes in transparent pricing. You can see the cost for most of our procedures here.

There are a number of factors that go into providing an estimate. To make sure we provide the most accurate price, we need to know whether your exam requires contrast or not. Other factors, such as your insurance deductible and out-of-pocket maximums, can also impact the final cost of your exam.

If you are comparing costs with other imaging centers, be sure to ask if you will receive one global bill or two separate bills. For imaging exams, there are two fees: a technical fee for the imaging itself as well as a professional fee for the radiologist to review your images and write a report for the referring doctor on the findings. It is important to ask what charges make up your estimate and whether it includes both fees.

For more information, contact Ascend Imaging Center’s insurance specialists at (248) 595-8404.

The Future of Health is Here, Now

A color image of the heart as viewed from a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) screen. Advances in technology, including Artificial Intelligence, have made non-invasive preventative cardiac screening effective, efficient and cost-friendly.

A European study outlining the benefits of cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in helping identify suspected coronary artery disease ahead of a medical emergency, like a stroke or heart attack, predicted the increased use of these type of non-invasive techniques more than 10 years ago.

Since that peer-reviewed article was first published (read the full study on the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine website), advances in technology and the reduction of costs have both contributed to a significant tool in helping prevent cardiac injury. In 2010, most diagnostic tools to detect cardiac potential events involved contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) coronary angiography; work-ups were also dependent on patients with suspected coronary artery disease.

Yet, many clinicians treating patients with suspected coronary artery disease still rely on older methods like stress electrocardiography (ECG) and stress echocardiography, which are aimed at the detection of abnormalities under stress conditions.

Today, advances in computer-aided artificial intelligence, along with increased functionality of MRI machines and programming, patients who may not either present with symptoms of cardiac disease or even have a family history, can take advantage of technology well in advance of a potential catastrophic medical event.

Photo of a blood clot in an artery, courtesy of the Material Science and Engineering Department, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY; Rensselaer Poly, along with Cornell University and the NIH partnered with Cleerly in developing, studying and proving the efficacy of the company’s diagnostic capabilities.

Ascend Imaging Center’s partnership with CLEERLY, the Colorado-based technology firm that pioneered a new way of imaging the heart and surrounding circulatory system to non-invasively detect cardiac disease is at the forefront of medical advancement.

This is not hyped Silicon Valley smoke and mirrors; Cleerly’s technology is based on more than a decade of foundational research conducted in partnership with leading medical institutions, including New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medicine, and the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (an academic-industrial collaboration between General Electric Research and Rensselaer Polytechnic University), according to its founder and CEO, Dr. James K. Min.

Dr. James K. Min, founder and CEO of Cleerly, has partnered with Ascend Imaging Center offering its diagnostic test for arterial plaque that can lead to medical emergencies.

Min explained that the research proving efficacy included large-scale clinical trials with more than 50,000 patients, which comprised the “[m]ost extensive body of coronary imaging research to study how imaging can be used to better understand heart disease and project patient outcomes.

“Through the application of artificial intelligence that is constantly being refined with our … clinical data, Cleerly is finally bringing heart disease diagnosis and prevention into the 21st century,” Min added.

The results have been nothing short of amazing when compared to older, non-invasive diagnostic techniques, according to Dr. Justin Klein, a physician and venture capitalist who has helped with rounds of funding in support of the company’s mission. “We see Cleerly as the future of how coronary artery disease will be evaluated, and we support the company’s mission to tailor a personalized approach to diagnosis, management, and treatment, and to validate all of this with world-class clinical evidence of utility and cost-effectiveness.”

Ascend Imaging Center’s partnership with Cleerly makes this technology available here, in Southeast Michigan, and in concert with your primary care physician or cardiologist, the results can be a game-changer.

For more information on Cleerly and other diagnostic tools, contact Ascend Imaging at (248) 595-8404.