Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room Cost
The urgent care vs. emergency room is a hotly contested issue, especially with large hospitals seeing a good deal of their profits moving to smaller, more convenient, less expensive urgent care centers. Many people use the ER as if it was a primary care facility and for minor emergencies, which drives up ER costs. So for minor emergencies, less serious illnesses, and annoying complaints, they head to the ER. But now, the more health-conscious Americans have discovered the clear advantages of urgent care facilities; namely you are in faster to see the doctor and you don’t have to worry about being pushed back in line every time a new patient arrives with a priority case. And you will also pay less, be treated as a valued individual, and see the same quality doctors and support staff that you will find in the large, crowed, frantic ER.
However, there are some times when you want to go to the ER and not to an urgent care center. To sort things out, we suggest these urgent care vs. emergency room guidelines.
First off, if the situation requires an ambulance or paramedics, you will probably be taken to an ER. That is most likely the right place to go unless someone tends to call 9-1-1 any minor reason. But for everything else, here are the Three C’s of Medical Care: Cost, Convenience, and Care Responsiveness.
Cost of Urgent Care
There is no question that for almost all urgent care needs, the gold ring goes to the small urgent care centers. In fact, they leave the ER in the dust, usually saving up to 60% vs. the ER. Why? The ER is in a hospital with excessive bureaucracy and red tape built in to their fee structure; they have one large custom-built complex instead of many smaller facilities, usually in strip malls, where facilities maintenance is much less expensive; the ER is only part of the hospital’s business and must help carry the load for 24-hour care in the wards. And urgent care centers are much, much easier to work with if you must create a payment plan.
Sometimes, cost is not an issue. The emergency room offers more comprehensive services for various emergencies, especially those that require an immediate operation. Of course, having operating rooms and surgical staff waiting around for an extreme emergence adds to operational costs, which are passed on to you for your minor emergency and less severe illnesses. You are paying a premium for high for your medical treatment, even if you never need the emergency services.
Most typical and non-life threatening medical issues can be settled with an urgent care center visit and Metro Urgent Care is structured so you can save a lot of money and time. You’ll avoid paying unnecessary fees that an emergency room tacks on when you can get the same procedure or treatment completed in an urgent care center. Urgent care vs. emergency room cost will vary depending on your situation, but as a rule you can expect to save 50% or more at Metro Urgent Care. Even if you have to go to the ER for the initial emergency, remember that urgent care centers are much cheaper across the board for almost all of your follow-up treatments.
Urgent Care Convenience
Frankly, unless you are knocking on heaven’s door, no ER cannot compete with Metro Urgent Care. Even though most emergency rooms offer some sort of express parking, you are usually still farther away than in the comfortable parking situations at a Metro Urgent Care, often just a few feet from the door. The ER has to keep the area clear for ambulances and emergency vehicles, which pushes ambulatory parking farther away. This may seem close, but the point still goes to Metro Urgent Care with their drive-up and walk-in policy – no parking tickets to validate, no hospital confusion, no long wait times while someone with a runny nose moves ahead of you. Granted, ERs do offer convenient triage and 24 hour service but they are still slower (up to four hours!) than Metro Urgent Care where you are seen on a first come, first served basis. Most Metro Urgent Care locations are open seven days a week, with extended evening hours, so even many odd-hour emergencies are covered.
The ER is likely open in the middle of the night and you will have to go there. But if your accident or medical situation is can wait until morning, urgent care facilities are the best option. Don’t risk your health, but visiting an urgent care center will save money, save time, and save the trip all the way to a 24-hour emergency room, who usually have to pay a premium for over-night staff.
If you have never been to an emergency room, it is an experience worth avoiding. There are tales of patients who are pushed back in line for up to 18 hours in some cases. The ER has a PhD in making people wait, sometimes so long their simple problem has progress to a major issue before they can see a doctor. At a Metro Urgent Care facility, you walk in and receive care. Just about that fast. As urgent care centers continue to grow, they tend to do so by adding another location, making it more convenient for some people and reducing the strain on other facilities. The quick, concise, conscious medical attention at Metro Urgent Care is a huge plus.
Metro Urgent Care has facilities across the state and in a variety of other locations through our urgent care partners. Our interactive map makes it easy to locate the one nearest or just give us a call. We are happy to arrange an appointment or you can check on the wait time. Usually it is around 5 minutes – just enough time to complete the paperwork. But if your first-choice location is busy, we can help you find somewhere faster and not far from you.
When Do I Choose the Emergency Room Over Urgent Care?
Sometimes going to the urgent care is not a bad idea. If you are unsure, an urgent care facility can usually stabilize a situation and call for an ambulance, which might cut down the time before life-saving treatment is administered. But if you know your emergency is potentially life-threatening, head directly for the ER. There is no debate here. The ER wins. However, when it comes to illnesses and minor accidents, bumps, bruises, colds, nausea, or follow-up treatment, urgent care is the best choice. Remember, we have primary care doctors on staff. Not a bad idea to make us the first stop for all your medical needs.
But if you need to call 9-1-1 or think you are experiencing a major medical event, get to an emergency room immediately! Major medical events include:
- Extreme abdominal pain
- Extreme burns
- Heart attacks
- Injury or trauma to the head
- Losing consciousness or fainting
- Newborns with a fever
- Open fractures
- Severe bleeding incidents
- Vision loss (or vision changes)
- Weakness/numbness on one side of the body
Never hesitate to call 9-1-1 for assistance if you are uncertain which way to go. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Chances are, they will take you to the nearest ER automatically.
There are many good reason to choose urgent care. We give great (an inexpensive physicals). We have wonder wellness programs and successful weight loss regimens. We have in-house x-rays and a fast in-house lab. We offer flu shots and we have programs to help with occupational medical care, just to name a few. No matter what criteria you apply, Metro Urgent Care comes out on top in most cases when you compare urgent care and emergency room experiences.
If you need to know when to use urgent care vs. emergency room visits or to learn more about Metro Urgent Care, please call (303) 555-5555 or contact our urgent care consultants via email at [email protected].