Skye likes writing about mental health, nutrition, and wellness. She is passionate about sharing information that will educate, and positively affect people's lives.
Po-Chang Hsu, M.D.
Dr. Hsu received his medical degree from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, and holds a Master’s of Science degree from both Harvard University and Tufts University. Outside of the medical profession, Dr. Hsu loves to write, learn new languages, and travel.
February 18, 2021
Urgent care facilities are incredibly convenient for those experiencing health issues that need immediate attention. Many patients choose urgent care due to a last-minute injury, no available appointments at their primary doctor, or to steer clear of high emergency room costs.
Urgent care is available to help people with:
This article will discuss the difference between urgent care and emergency care, examples of urgent care and emergency room prices, what urgent care treats, and how to get affordable urgent care online.
Emergency rooms are for severe and often life-threatening injuries. Urgent care facilities are more suitable for minor injuries and infections that should be treated immediately but would put you at the bottom of the triage list at an emergency room.
Urgent care facilities are often cheaper than emergency rooms. Just like a visit to the emergency room, the amount you’ll pay at urgent care depends on your needs. Things like labs, x-rays, and casting a broken arm will cost more than an allergy assessment, for example.
The Annals of Internal Medicine did a study in the United States that discovered the average urgent care visit costs around $160 per patient. Other studies have found it as low as $70 per person. Emergency rooms often cost patients over $2,200.
“If you have a minor condition – fever, flu symptoms, allergic reactions, minor cuts, bites, broken bones – urgent care centers are a far better choice for time and cost,” according to Debt.org.
One of the main differences between the two is that you have to pay for your urgent care visit before leaving the clinic. Unlike a hospital that will bill you later, urgent care requires payment on the same day. For this reason, you must bring a proper payment method with you to the clinic.
You may be wondering if you need insurance to go to urgent care. The answer is no! Without insurance, visits to the emergency room are typically quite expensive. But if the same ailments are treated at urgent care facilities, they can be much more affordable. Now let’s go over how much urgent care costs without insurance.
Here’s what you can expect to pay on average at both the emergency room and an urgent care facility for some of the most common ailments.
|Reason for visiting||Emergency Room Price||Urgent Care Price|
|Upper Respiratory Infection||$485||$109|
|Urinary Tract Infection||$667||$115|
Urgent care is often cheaper than seeing your regular doctor, but paying your bill upfront can be intimidating, and depending on the total, it may be out of your budget. There are a handful of things you may be able to do to lower the cost of what you pay during your visit.
Surprisingly, many urgent care facilities will accommodate those paying out of pocket. They aren’t required to give you a lower price, but if you ask them to negotiate, you may get lucky! You don’t have to sacrifice your health and bank account to get high-quality care.
Sometimes a patient will visit urgent care requiring a handful of tests. This can quickly add up. They might not have enough to cover the entire bill and require a payment plan. Ask the staff about a payment plan with the lowest interest and sign up if needed.
Mistakes can happen, even in a medical facility. It’s always a smart idea to double-check your bill to make sure that you’re only being charged for the tests, prescriptions, and services you received. If you see any errors on your account, let them know and have the billing department adjust it accordingly.
Speaking of prescriptions, always ask for the generic option if there’s one available. Don’t worry; generic drugs have the same active ingredients as the more expensive name-brand options. On the same note, see if they accept services like GoodRX that will adjust the prescription price to give you a better deal.
Lastly, you can compare rates for specific urgent care clinics before you get there. You’ll often find lists of the charges for the most common conditions on their websites. If you have more than one urgent care near you, see which one is a more cost-friendly option before getting medical care.
For starters, if you’re experiencing a medical emergency, always go to the emergency room at the nearest hospital. Urgent care centers should be looked at as last-minute health clinics for ailments that you’d visit your doctor to treat.
In a situation where your primary care physician is booked with appointments, or it’s a weekend or holiday, you’d visit urgent care. Some of the most common reasons people go to urgent care over other facilities are:
Urgent care centers are available to perform a multitude of tests and procedures. If you require extensive care, the medical team will direct you to get the care you need.
It doesn’t matter if you have health insurance or not; going to an urgent care clinic is often the most cost-efficient option available. Even in comparison to primary care doctors, you’ll find that urgent care may cost less for the uninsured. The biggest downside is that the payment for treatment is usually due on the same day instead of billed later.
Urgent care isn’t a replacement for a primary doctor but rather a last-minute substitute. They won’t have your extensive medical records or know you as a person. What they can do is offer you high-quality care when your regular clinic is closed. They’ll save you plenty of money compared to the emergency room and send you out with a prescription if needed on the same day.
Online doctors are a great resource and offer some of the same services, like urgent care facilities. Of course, a doctor won’t be able to x-ray you or put a cast on over the internet. But for things like getting a diagnosis and prescription medication, online doctors are a great resource for the uninsured.
They are also more affordable per session than in-person urgent care facilities.
Another benefit of online doctors is that they can prescribe medication like antibiotics, birth control, erectile dysfunction medication, allergy medication, and even prescription refills.
EverydayDr is proud to be partnered with PlushCare, a top telehealth company providing access to online doctors. At PlushCare, you can speak with an online doctor and get urgent care online.
Click here to book an appointment with a doctor.
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