Does Medicare Cover X-Rays?

Medicare Part B does cover diagnostic X-rays if your doctor or another health care provider determines they are medically necessary.

After you meet your yearly Medicare Part B deductible ($185 in 2019), you will typically pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for the X-ray.

Learn more about how Medicare covers X-rays and other diagnostic services, as well as ways you may be able to save money on your Medicare health coverage costs.

Doctor reviews x-rays with her patient

How much does Medicare pay for X-rays?

There are two terms that may be helpful to know to better understand how Medicare pays for X-rays.

As mentioned above, if your X-ray is determined to be medically necessary, you will pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount.

  • Medically necessary
    If your doctor or another health care provider determine that your X-rays are medically necessary, this means that the X-rays are necessary to help diagnose an illness, injury, disease, condition or other symptoms.

    In other words, if you are being treated for an injury, illness or condition that is covered by Medicare, and if a doctor orders an X-ray as part of that treatment process, then Medicare Part B will help cover the cost of the X-ray.

  • Medicare-approved amount
    This is the amount of money that Medicare has decided it will pay a health care provider for a particular service or item. If the health care provider agrees to accept the Medicare-approved amount as full payment, this means that they accept Medicare assignment.

    If they choose not to accept the Medicare-approved amount as full payment, they may charge up to 15 percent more than the Medicare-approved amount. This is known as a Medicare Part B excess charge.

Medicare Part B may help cover some additional services related to your bone health and other health conditions that result in an X-ray.

Medicare Part B covers bone mass measurements

Part B will cover bone mass measurements once every 24 months (or more often if necessary) if you have an increased risk of osteoporosis.

If your X-rays show that you have possible osteoporosis, vertebral fractures or osteopenia, Medicare Part B will cover your bone mass measurements in full, as long as your doctor accepts Medicare assignment.

Medicare does not cover X-rays ordered by a chiropractor

Medicare Part B does not cover X-rays if they are ordered by a chiropractor. Your X-rays are only covered by Medicare when they are ordered by a medical doctor or other health care provider for diagnostic purposes.

Medicare Part B does cover some chiropractic services. Specifically, Medicare will help cover manual manipulation of your spine if it is medically necessary in treatment of a subluxation (when a bone or bones in your spine are out of position).

Medicare Advantage plans cover X-rays

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan (Medicare Part C), your X-rays will be covered in exactly the same way as someone with Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B).

A Medicare Advantage plan covers the same benefits offered by Original Medicare. Many Medicare Advantage plans can also offer additional benefits not covered by Original Medicare, such as dental, hearing, vision, prescription drug coverage and certain at-home care services.

Are you happy with your Medicare coverage? Do you want to learn more about other options you may have? Compare Medicare Advantage plans available where you live by calling TTY Users: 711, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.