A More Affordable Emergency Medical Care Option

Hours for urgent care

The results of a 2010 study conducted by the Rand Corporation showed that about 20% of all hospital emergency room patients in the United States could have been treated competently at urgent care centers. Had they chosen that option, Americans would have saved approximately $4.4 billion in health care costs that year.

In light of the above statistics, American taxpayers should be ticked off, because one is bound to wonder how many emergency room patients receive medicare, medicaid, or some other form of government subsidized health benefits. The point is that it seems that an individual is less likely to make the effort to seek a more affordable emergency health care option if they do not have a stake in its cost. After all, if one can receive free emergency medical care whether they seek treatment at 24 hour urgent care facilities, immediate care centers, or costly hospital emergency rooms, what is the incentive to find urgent care treatment?

This is in no way intended to knock low income families who are merely looking for fast emergency treatment, but the public needs to be further educated about the affordability and convenience of choosing far cheaper doctors walk in clinics — such as urgent care and immediate care centers — over hospital emergency rooms. This is especially true after the recent, rocky roll out of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Hopefully, our new federally funded health care system places mandates upon which types of health care facilities qualify for “Obamacare” coverage. For instance, if a person who is experiencing an achy back, the mild flu, or a migraine seeks treatment at a hospital emergency room, perhaps they should be redirected to a doctors walk in clinic that charges a fraction of the cost of an emergency room.

In addition to paying only about 10% of the expense hospital emergency rooms charge , about 80% of patients who seek emergency medical care via urgent care or immediate care facilities are treated in less than an hour. Therefore, if low urgent care costs are not enough of an incentive, perhaps substantial time savings will be.

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