MSAA, Lumina partner to provide MRIs to MS patients in Ohio

Program is designed to offer financial assistance for cost of scans

Andrea Lobo, PhD avatar

by Andrea Lobo, PhD |

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A person prepares for a MRI as a technician preps the machine.

Lumina Imaging has partnered with the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) to provide affordable brain and spinal cord MRI scans to multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.

The partnership makes Lumina the preferred provider for the MSAA’s MRI Access Program in northeast Ohio. The program is designed to offer assistance to support the cost of MRI scans, the gold standard for identifying and monitoring brain and spinal cord damage in MS.

The effort applies to people who either have no insurance or who cannot afford their insurance-related costs, including out-of-pocket expenses (co-pays). Costs related to new MRIs can be covered up to a maximum of $750 per MRI, while MRIs performed in the past six months can have up to $500 covered.

MSAA partners are selected based on the geographical area of need to limit patient travel, having a certain level of technical quality and accuracy, easily accessible facilities, and being affordable. Referrals from neurologists and other medical professionals as well as from clients are considered when selecting a provider for the program.

Lumina has four centers across northeast Ohio and boasts the latest equipment, facilities that are easy to access and navigate, and a flat fee structure.

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Benefit of MRI scans in MS

“It was refreshing to find like-minded partners in MSAA. They are working to provide patients affordable, hospital-grade imaging that is easy to access,” Bryan Crowley, director at Lumina, said in a company press release. “We are excited to have earned the trust of such an important organization!”

MRI scans are sensitive and noninvasive imaging tools wherein strong magnetic fields and radio waves image water content in tissues. This helps create detailed images of the brain and spinal cord, helping doctors identify regions of damage.

These scans are the preferred imaging tool to diagnose MS, and are used routinely to monitor lesions and brain shrinkage, which can give a sense of how the disease is progressing and responding to treatment.

Scans can cost anywhere between a few hundred and several thousand dollars, however, which may prevent many patients from getting appropriate disease monitoring and treatment.

To facilitate access, the MSAA offers financial assistance to anyone who meets certain criteria, including an annual family income below a given threshold, a suspicion of MS by a qualified professional or a confirmed MS diagnosis, and no assistance from the fund within the last two years.

Each year, the program is estimated to help more than 1,000 people with little or no health insurance. Also, 58% of its applicants are new each year, indicating the growing need for medical imaging and cost issues related to health insurance.