Many people who have a health issue and consider visiting an emergency room haven’t even heard of urgent care clinics. The ER is the familiar option, and therefore many people choose emergency rooms without considering other options. Especially when you’re in the midst of a health crisis, the immense cost of an ER visit is often overlooked. However, it’s worth it to ask the question: how much does an urgent care visit cost, anyway? ER bills are incredibly expensive, easily eclipsing most urgent care bills. Doing your research beforehand, understanding which ailments require an ER visit, and which can be handled more efficiently and cost-effectively at an urgent care clinic can save you a lot of time and money.
Understanding the Difference
First, it’s important to note when it’s appropriate to visit an urgent care clinic, and when you need to go to the ER. Sometimes, the ER is absolutely necessary. If you have an extreme health emergency, like a stroke, heart attack, severe burns, or electrical shock, an ER’s services are necessary. However, if your condition is less serious, an urgent care clinic is a far more cost-effective option. Fever, flu symptoms, allergic reactions, minor cuts, animal bites, minor broken bones, and similar ailments are all covered by urgent care clinics.
Get What You Pay For
So—how much does an ER visit cost anyway? Unfortunately, it’s not cheap. ER patients famously come home to sizable bills that, in some cases, take many years to pay off. To put it in perspective, the average ER visit was found to cost about 40 percent more than what the average American pays for a month’s rent. What’s worse, because ER prices vary wildly based on individual hospitals and markets, patients have no way of knowing how high their bills will be until they receive them in the mail.
Because federal law requires ER’s to offer care to every patient, ERs often end up treating minor emergencies that shouldn’t necessitate a hospital visit. And since they can’t be turned away, uninsured patients commonly utilize emergency rooms as their main health care provider, overcrowding ER waiting rooms and limiting their capacity to attend to emergencies. This not only adds to long wait times, but also wastes a tremendous amount of money. Indeed, research shows that approximately 60 percent of ER patients could be seen at urgent care centers.
Whereas the average ER visit can cost a patient at least $750, the same treatment at an urgent care facility can cost as little as $150. This price difference is the main reason why many urgent care patients are pleasantly surprised by their bill.
The affordability of urgent care clinics makes them not only an attractive option for patients, but also a great franchise opportunity. If an AFC urgent care franchise sounds like the right next step for you, contact us to learn more.