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Urgent Care Facilities — Wait Less, Pay Less Than the ER

Urgent Care Facilities -- Wait Less, Pay Less Than the ER


Not a lot of people know what level of care provided by community health clinics. Most people are still likely to admit themselves to an emergency room if they suffer a medical ailment. Rightly so, if the situation is an emergency. In less severe cases, people may schedule an appointment with their primary care physician, though the availability and operating hours of most primary care facilities limit people from going there during off hours.

That’s where an urgent care facility comes in. Instead of visiting the emergency room for ailments that are not of the utmost importance, a lot of Americans are opting to visit their local community health clinic. If there isn’t one near you, there probably will be soon. Two clinics are opening every day, and it’s expected that there will be over 15,000 of them in the United States by 2019.

A lot of legislators and healthcare industry insiders have been working hard to increase the amount of access to the type of care community health clinics provide. Even rural areas and lower-income areas are seeing a windfall of benefits from this shift, and the level of care available has increased substantially over the years.

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So, what are some of the best reasons to go to urgent care? For starters, you could be helping to save lives. If you don’t have a critical emergency, that seat at the emergency room should stay open for someone who may have a life-threatening injury. Of the roughly 130 million people who visit the emergency room each year, experts estimate that a significant percentage of them could have been treated at urgent care.

That’s a potentially indirect, or unseen benefit. What is another benefit of choosing a walk in clinic over the ER? On average, patients can expect to pay about $780 less per visit to the local urgent care center than they would at the ER. Regarding wait times, about three hours could have been saved (you’d be treated sooner) as well.

If you’re still going to the emergency room every time you have an ailment, keep in mind that it should be reserved for emergencies only. The next time you have a moderately acute injury but one that is not life-threatening, consider visiting your local urgent care facility.