This post has been sponsored by Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA).
However, I am glad to share information with you that might save you lots of money.
I am a huge fan of planning, but if I have learned anything about being a mother – kids are unpredictable! As soon as they start walking they just can’t wait to get in trouble, and that seems like the case for every one of my children. In the last ten years, I’ve gotten really good at maxing out my out of pocket costs.
However, every time something unexpected happens, my first thought is to go to the ER, with long ER lines and hefty bills for non-emergency services! What is the alternative? You have most likely heard of, and maybe tried the affordable, convenient health care options – including urgent care, telemedicine, retail clinics and on-site work clinics – that provide on-demand services for a fraction of the price of an ER visit. But do you know which one is best suited for your needs?
Today with the help of the Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA) we can sort through these options.
A study in Health Affairs found about 13-27 percent of all emergency room visits could take place at an urgent care or retail clinic, which could save $4.4 billion in healthcare spending annually.
For less severe conditions, consider one of these ER-alternatives:
Urgent Care Center
Urgent care centers provide a robust spectrum of care for immediate but non-emergency or life-threatening situations, treating everything from the flu and broken bones to asthma and concussion screening. Urgent cares are equipped to handle illnesses and injuries requiring X-rays, intravenous fluids, and on-site lab tests. Focused on convenience, urgent cares offer short wait times and affordable care, with services covered by most insurance providers.
Retail clinics, or walk-in clinics, are typically found in local supermarkets or pharmacies and offer a variety of wellness services for conditions less serious than those handled at urgent care centers or ERs. Retail clinics treat uncomplicated minor illnesses and provide preventative care such as vaccinations.
Telemedicine connects patients with providers for virtual visits regardless of distance, increasing access to care while reducing costs and travel time. Many healthcare organizations adopt telemedicine options to make better use of resources and reach a larger population of patients remotely. Urgent care centers, for example, use online telemedicine platforms to treat patients in rural communities, or for brief consultations and follow-ups that do not require in-person visits.
Many employers are now offering on-site clinics to their employees to increase access to health care. Similar to retail clinics, on-site clinics offer wellness and preventative services that vary per location.
“Urgent care centers and other on-demand healthcare options are expanding their services to treat more illnesses and injuries, making it easier for patients to access affordable care,” said Steve Sellars, president of UCAOA. “ER-alternatives provide high-quality, affordable care when patients need it most – offering extended hours and locations.”
Important to Know
Free-standing emergency rooms are facilities that are not attached to a hospital but often charge the same high cost of care found at the ER. These free-standing facilities are often mistaken for urgent care centers. Double check that the facility you choose offers the services and insurance or payment options that best suit your needs.
When seeking care for non-life or -limb threatening situations, patients should make sure that the facility they’re visiting identifies itself as an urgent care or immediate care center, and not as an emergency department. Patients can find a conveniently located urgent care center near them at www.whereisurgentcare.com.