If you're going to seek an imaging procedure such as an MRI or CT scan, you'd better need it. BD
New insurance company restrictions this year have cut high-tech scans in Minnesota, preventing those that appear wasteful or unnecessary. Two weeks of back pain might have triggered a scan last year, for instance, even though short-term pain often goes away. Now, doctors are more likely to hold off until six weeks.
Medica in March began discouraging doctors from imaging procedures that weren't recommended by the American College of Radiology. The rate of high-tech scans among Medica's 1.3 million members has decreased by 10 percent since that time, and so has the number of imaging requests that fall outside of medical guidelines.HealthPartners followed with a computer-entry program, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota unveiled a similar requirement for some of its members.
United Hospital in St. Paul listed the drop in imaging as one reason for its current 5 percent workforce reduction. However, hospital officials believe the number of imaging procedures will creep back up as the population ages and researchers prove more medical uses for them.