The topic of health reform has had an almost constant presence in the American dialogue in recent years with the passage of the massive health reform package known as the Affordable Care Act. A primary motivating factor of this effort was the well documented system inefficiencies that had driven up healthcare costs while failing to provide adequate quality of care. This was illustrated by the over 50 million individuals living without medical insurance and consistent access to services. One of the most cost-effective ways for Texas residents to save money on their health care costs is to visit Pearland urgent care centers for their medical needs.
A large number each year have been forced to utilize emergency rooms for their medical needs rather than Pearland urgent care. Often this means that high cost resources ideally devoted to handling trauma and other severe cases are spent on non-emergent care. A practice that significantly drives up healthcare costs and also presents an opportunity for facilities better suited to addressing non-emergency medical needs on a walk-in basis.
Increase in Urgent Care Facilities
There are currently between 12,000 and 20,000 urgent care centers operating in the United States, a number that has risen dramatically since the early 1990s when only about 4,000 such facilities were in service. As the demand for medical services is overwhelming primary care physicians and hospitals, the number of patients seen in an urgent care setting with an estimated 71 million individuals receiving care each year. Physician shortages are a major driving force behind the renewed demand for urgent care centers. It is estimated that by 2025 there will be 45,000 less primary physicians then will be required to meet demand. This is due in part to the baby-boomer generation reaching old age which will expand the over-65 population to 80 million.
There will also be a significant population of traditionally underserved people who will gain access to insurance coverage through the expansion of Medicaid as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. The ACA also calls for the role of primary care physicians to be significantly expanded and include several duties related to prevention and continuity of care. It is reasonable to assume that the amount of time devoted to each patient will increase as a result, reducing the number able to be seen during the relatively limited scheduled hours of most primary care physicians.
Potential for cost control
In addition to filling a void in the healthcare system between primary care physicians and hospital emergency departments urgent care facilities also present an opportunity to reduce costs associated with providing care. The first reason has to do with staffing as urgent care centers can operate effectively with less specialized medical personnel such as trauma physicians and surgeons on site. As the cases are non-emergency they also do not need to offer 24 hour operating schedules while maintaining hours that run longer than most primary care physicians.
Reduced overhead is reflected in an associated decrease in per diagnosis costs. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that urgent care centers could arrive at the same diagnosis between $228-583 cheaper than an ER department. This represents a potential savings of $7.22-18.45 billion if all non-emergent cases were referred from an ER to an urgent care facility.
When finding affordable medical care, consider visiting a Pearland urgent care center for premier services at an affordable price.