Number of ER Visits managed at an Urgent Care

Number of ER Visits managed at an Urgent Care

Americans seek a significant amount of non-emergent care at emergency rooms (ERs). This is partially due to long wait times for primary care appointments, limited after-hours care at physicians’ offices, and a lack of primary care physician relationship. Patients who present problems that can be treated elsewhere comprise a significant portion of ER visits. Research reports show that prices for non-emergent conditions are significantly higher in the ER than elsewhere, which can increase patients’ out-of-pocket costs and create added strain their employer’s if covered by a company health plan.

Insurance companies noticed this trend, and have gradually taken actions to discourage patients with non-emergent conditions from being treated in ER. Some have even begun to deny claims for non-emergency visits in ER. So what options do patients have conditions that must be treated immediately, but are considered non-emergent?

Urgent Care Centers have become a good alternative to ER and Primary Care Doctors’ Office due to convenient features such as walk-in appointments, working hours that span 7 days a week, and a plethora of treatment options. Urgent Care Centers are typically freestanding physicians’ offices with extended hours, onsite x-rays and laboratory testing, and an expanded treatment range, including care treatment options for fractures and lacerations. Urgent care’s can also perform many work related medical inquires such as Most Urgent Care Centers accept insurance for visits. One top of that, many Urgent Cares also double as worker’s compensation claims and work physicals. Primary Physician offices for many patients, and can be a valuable asset to a businesses as a medical reference.

The following two charts analyze types of illness that are often treated at ER and the cost differentials for non-emergent conditions between ER and UC.

Chart 1 – Diagnosis at Emergency Rooms (1)

[weblator_chart id=”1″]

  • 136 million visits per year
  • Top 3 Reasons for ER Visits:  * Strains and fracture, * Upper Respiratory Infection, *Superficial cuts (Laceration)
  • It’s estimated that 25-40% of all ER Visits can be treated elsewhere
  • Would result in savings of $7-10 Billion per year

Minor Conditions That Can Be Treated at Urgent Care Centers:

Fevers, flu or cold symptoms Ear Infections Animal or Insect Bites
Seasonal allergies Bronchitis Sprains & Broken Bones
Laceration Urinary Tract Infections Moderate Asthma
x-Rays & Lab tests Minor Back Pain Vomiting or Diarrhea

Chart 1 – Diagnosis at Emergency Rooms (1)

[weblator_chart id=”2″]

Co-pay Summary

  • Primary Care:  $20 – $40
  • Urgent Care:  $30 – $50
  • Emergency Room:  $100 – $150

Data meant to be illustrative purpose only, based on what’s typically seen in Philadelphia area.

Diverting these patients to places other than the ER can decrease patient waiting time to be seen by a clinician, as opposed to the extended wait periods in the ER. Some individuals even choose to leave the ER without being seen because of these wait times, which can potentially exacerbate the illness. As shown from the charts above, there are also savings associated with the use of Urgent Care Centers compared to emergency rooms.

Both employers and individual alike can benefit from the cost and time saving benefits provided by Urgent Care. If you are an employer, you should strongly consider using a local Urgent Care as medical reference for you employee medical plan, to not only save money, but provide your employees with the best medical options fr their care.

If you are located in the city of Philadelphia, and wish to find out more about how an Urgent Care can help you, or your company, contact us and we will be happy to help you figure out your options.

Sources: US Library of Medicine; National Institute of Health; The New England Health Institute
(1) Graph based on date presented in a research report published by Robin M. Weinick, Rachel M. Burns, and Ateev Mehrotra