Imaging under attack

What incentives can we put in place to cut needless imaging? And what impact would that have on medical inflation?

MRI machineThe practice of routine medical imaging is under attack, according to three articles collected by the MedicExchange blog. (This MRI machine takes pictures in southern Indiana.)

Two charts in a Wall Street Journal story tell the tale. Medicare spending alone on imaging has risen $4 billion in the last four years, and the U.S. likely has more imaging equipment per capita than any other country. Most of the article's text deals with attempts to cut self-dealing by doctors who own shares in imaging clinics.

The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper, weighs in with news of a meeting between White House advisors and representatives of the imaging industry, with the industry complaining they're being asked to take too many of planning Medicare cuts.

The third story, from the AP wires, shows health care premiums rising another 6.1% this year, noting that even mid-sized companies no longer see insurance as affordable.

Imaging is popular because it's non-invasive and it covers the doctor's behind if a diagnosis is challenged. Even chiropractors are now routinely ordering MRIs and billing insurance companies for them.

But is it always necessary? What incentives can we put in place to cut needless imaging? And what impact would that have on medical inflation?

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