According to the most recent figures, approximately three million Americans seek emergency medical care via urgent care facilities every week. Still, an estimated 20% of those needing urgent medical care go straight to hospital emergency rooms to seek treatment.
The results of a study conducted by the Rand Corporation in 2010 revealed that the U.S. taxpayers could have saved roughly $4.4 billion dollar if that 20% would have chosen urgent care centers over hospital emergency rooms.
The whole point of urgent care is to provide patients with minor injuries and urgent medical care alternative to hospital emergency rooms. In addition to freeing up hospital emergency room staffs to address patients with the most pressing needs, urgent care treatment is faster, and considerably cheaper, than hospital emergency room costs.
While it would be nice if more people would choose after hours urgent care to help alleviate the extra strain placed on hospital emergency room staff, chances are that few people are thoughtful enough to do that. However, everybody likes to save time, and even more will never walk away from an opportunity to save money.
Unless you or a family member is critically injured or ill, urgent care clinics might be the best emergency medical care solution. This is because the typical urgent care patient is treated within one hour of walking through the door. In fact, 80% of urgent care patients receive treatment in less than 60 minutes, while nearly 60% are treated in less than 15 minutes.
In addition to providing significantly faster treatment than the average hospital emergency room, urgent health cares can cost as little as 10% of what most hospital ERs charge. With that being said, after hours urgent care centers are the ideal emergency medical care option for people who are economically disadvantaged, or don’t have health insurance coverage.
The next time you need treatment for a minor injury or illness, you should consider passing on the emergency room, and heading straight for your local urgent care center. After all, why wait longer and pay more for the same medical treatment?