Cost Comparison: Emergency Room vs. Urgent Care Clinic

Over 40% of Americans currently carry some form of medical debt.

Much of this debt comes from emergency care. While in some cases, a visit to the emergency room truly is warranted, sometimes, you can get the level of care you need from an urgent care clinic.

Urgent care works just as well as the medical attention you get in the ER, and it’s also a much more affordable option.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the cost differences between visiting an urgent care clinic vs. going to the hospital emergency room.

We’ll also help you understand where you can find an urgent care clinic near you, and tell you which situations truly do warrant a trip to the ER.

Understanding the Costs of an Emergency Room Visit

First of all, let’s take a closer look at the costs of emergency care.

er vs urgent care

Many people completely underestimate the cost of visiting the ER. In fact, ER rates are often as much as 13 times greater than the Medicare rates for the same services.

That being said, your individual insurance coverage greatly impacts the overall cost of visiting the emergency room. Plus, many companies are now taking a look at the reasons behind ER visits and may decide to reduce your coverage if they feel the emergency wasn’t pressing enough. You may also end up in an out-of-network emergency room.

Even with insurance, a co-pay can be about $50-$100. Without insurance, the visit can easily cost up to $3,000. Plus, then there’s the potential cost of transportation to the emergency room.

If you don’t have insurance, an ambulance ride can cost you up to $1500 — more if you use air transport. With insurance, you’re still looking at a copay of about $100.

You’ll also need to factor in any equipment, surgeries, and medication you received in the emergency room. These numbers can quickly add up to mind-boggling amounts.

The Costs of an Urgent Care Clinic

In contrast, let’s take a look at the costs of visiting an urgent care clinic.

Urgent care clinics accept walk-ins and allow you to get medical attention right away. Often, they’re open every day, and though they don’t usually offer 24-hour care, many are open until at least 9:00 PM.

You can get immediate care without having to call an ambulance, and for less severe medical issues that still need quick attention or are disrupting your life.

Usually, a copay for a visit to an urgent care center will range anywhere from $50-$150. The exact amount will depend on the specifics of your insurance plan.

If you don’t have insurance, you can still use the services of an urgent care clinic. In most cases, the cost will be somewhere around $100. You’ll still be responsible for paying the additional cost of any medication you’re prescribed.

The Benefits of Urgent Care

Let’s take a closer look at a few of the many benefits of urgent care clinics.

First of all, if you’re in pain, you don’t have to wait to schedule an appointment. You can just walk into a clinic and get care that same day.

Often, urgent care clinics have shorter wait times. Though they don’t keep your personal medical records on file, they can keep your insurance records stored in their system.

Should you need a referral to a medical specialist, you can get one quickly in an urgent care center. You’ll often also be bumped up to the front of the line when it comes to appointment availability.

You’ll get excellent treatment from urgent care centers provided by medical doctors and nurses.

You might visit an urgent care clinic if you have the flu or a persistent cough. The same goes if you suspect you have a minor infection that requires a prescription for antibiotics.

People go to urgent care for allergies, vomiting and diarrhea, and sprains/broken bones. You can also get stitches at an urgent care center, as well as shots, x-rays, and some lab tests.

When to Go to the Emergency Room

Of course, there are some things that require you to visit an emergency room.

Just be certain that your current medical issue truly does require immediate emergency care.

If you’re dealing with things like gunshot wounds, the signs of a heart attack or a stroke, paralysis, chest pain, or bleeding while you’re pregnant, you need to go to the ER.

The same thing goes if you’ve just sustained a severe head or eye injury, or if you’ve suffered from what you think may be a concussion. If someone has lost consciousness, you also need to take them to the emergency room.

If children suddenly break out into seriously high fevers or develop rashes without warning that spread quickly, you should go to the ER.

If you have time, you can call an urgent care clinic and ask for their advice.

Looking for a Local Urgent Care Clinic?

We hope that this post has helped you to understand the cost breakdowns of an urgent care clinic vs. an emergency room visit.

Need to find an urgent care center now?

Instead of just randomly searching for “urgent care clinic near me,” use our database to help you to locate the clinic closest to your current location.

You don’t have to wait in pain or in a high-risk state to get the care you need. You also don’t have to worry about whether or not you’ll be able to afford the hefty bills of an emergency room visit.

An urgent care clinic is the perfect solution. Visit one today to be on your way to better health.

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