My wife has undergone routine mammograms for nearly a decade because her paternal grandmother died at age 34 of breast cancer. For several years, radiologists ordered a breast ultrasound in addition to the mammogram to follow what everyone was confident was a benign lymph node in one of the breasts. But this January, the results showed that the lymph node may have changed by a millimeter or two. Though the doctors' suspicions had not changed very much, the radiologist ordered an MRI, a highly sensitive test that examines the breast in another way. Though I questioned the necessity of the test, and witnessed firsthand the anxiety it caused my wife, I certainly didn't want to argue with her -- or question her doctors.
Fifteen hundred images later, we received word that it was "probably" an enlarged lymph node. But just to be safe, another MRI in six months was ordered. The charged amount for the procedure was over $5,000, of which we ended up paying $3,000 because we had not yet met yearly our deductible.