If there's one thing most people can agree on, it's that the cost of medical care has skyrocketed in the past few decades. Whether it's a routine visit to the doctor or a childhood vaccination, even a 15-minute office visit can cost several hundred dollars.
Fortunately, there is an affordable alternative to emergency room visits for non life-threatening health issues: urgent care centers. While a trip to the emergency room can cost thousands of dollars for a single visit, urgent care facilities offer the exact same care at a cost that's typically one-fourth the price of an emergency room bill.
Compared to a visit to your primary care provider, the cost of urgent care is generally about the same.
In most cases, the cost of any medical visit depends on factors like the nature of the illness, the severity of the ailment, and the type of treatment involved. Plus, costs can vary depending on where the patient lives. For example, medical treatment in New York or California is probably going to be much higher than identical care in Arkansas or Idaho. Your cost also depends on whether you have health insurance.
Many urgent care centers are owned independently, so it's difficult to pinpoint the exact cost of care offered by various facilities across the country. It is, however, possible to determine an overall average based on data collected from centers around the nation. According to one study conducted by the Annals of Internal Medicine, it costs roughly $155 to be treated for three of the most common illnesses in the country—pharyngitis, urinary tract infection, and ear infection. At PhysicianOne Urgent Care our costs tend to be lower.
People frequently wonder how urgent care centers manage to keep their costs low. It's actually quite simple: unlike emergency rooms, who generally can't turn patients away, urgent care facilities request payment, partial payment, or proof of insurance coverage up front, and before treatment is offered. According to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, nearly 50 percent of all medical bills incurred in emergency rooms go unpaid because the patients lack insurance, or simply can't or won't pay them. Unfortunately, hospitals must absorb these costs, which raises the price of emergency room care for everyone.
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