We all know that medical bills are expensive. However, the prevalence of low cost urgent care facilities can help reduce the number of emergency room and doctor’s office visits. This makes healthcare affordable in several significant ways.
According to the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine (AAUCM), from 1994 to 2004 the number of emergency rooms was reduced by 9 percent. Emergency room visits, however, increased by more than a million each year. The result is that ERs are more crowded than ever, and wait times can be several hours long. Low cost urgent care facilities, on the flip side, are generally less crowded. This drastically reduces your wait. Urgent care facilities, because they don’t deal with life threatening cases, are also less likely to bump you for a patient who comes in with a more serious ailment. All of this adds up to saving you time.
Reduce Medical Bills
Visits to the ER are some of the most expensive medical visits around. The hospital bills you, the doctor bills you, and then you are billed for any medications dispensed or tests performed. Even with health insurance, co-pays and deductibles can leave you a large amount of debt.
Urgent care facilities are generally much more affordable. Because they are less expensive to run, they don’t need to charge as much for patient care. They are also well known for offering myriad services.
It’s estimated that 27 percent of ER visits can be handled by urgent care centers. If those in this percentile visited urgent care instead of an emergency room, the resulting savings would be as much as $4.4 billion a year in healthcare costs.
Convenience, it itself, may not directly translate into savings, but it can still have an effect on your checking account. The majority of physician offices don’t offer late night or weekend appointments, which means you must schedule your appointments during work hours. This may cause you to miss your own job, possibly forfeiting pay in the process.
Urgent care clinics, however, are open during evenings, on weekends, and in some cases, twenty-four hours a day. This means that you can visit a doctor when it is convenient for you.
Avoid Unnecessary Tests
Doctors are known to order unnecessary tests. In fact, Time reports that radiology tests (such as CT scans, MRIs, and nuclear medicine procedures) have become a crutch for new doctors. Some practitioners won’t even examine a patient until the diagnostic tests are complete.
These unnecessary tests are more likely to happen in an ER than in an urgent care facility. One reason for this is quite simple: CT scanners, MRI machines, and ultrasound machines are conveniently down the hall from emergency rooms. Urgent care facilities, however, typically do not have the expensive equipment of ER departments.
Additionally, urgent care facilities are often less crowed and less frenzied than the average ER. This gives the doctor a chance to spend time with you and thoroughly examine you, rather than rushing you off to radiology.
No Emergency? No Brainer
For people who need urgent but not emergency medical attention, there is really no reason not to go to an urgent care center. They are more affordable and the staff will get you in, get you out, and send you on your healthy way.