When children are sick or injured, one of the first things that may occur to a parent or other caretaker is to drive them to the emergency room. Perhaps they’re complaining of itchy eyes, sore throats, and a possible fever, or they may have a small laceration or a strange rash. In many cases, these conditions may not be an urgent medical need that warrants a visit to the emergency room.
Rather than an expensive visit to the emergency room, these children could instead be taken to a pediatric urgent care facility. Currently, the United States has approximately 9,300 urgent care centers, and while the number varies, there are about 50-to-100 new clinics opening on an annual basis.
Urgent care centers, like emergency rooms, have physicians on staff. Furthermore, 50% of all urgent care centers are either owned by a single physician or a physicians group. Currently, there are approximately 20,000 physicians who have chosen to practice Urgent Care Medicine, and more are choosing to focus on this specialty.
Four Reasons to Choose Urgent Care
- Cost is considerably less
- Less waiting time
- Most operate all week
- On-site physicians and care providers
The average cost of an urgent-care-type case in an emergency room is $2,039. If this same case were handled in an urgent care facility, it would be around $226. This is a substantial difference. On average, an emergency room visit insurance reimbursement is $302 per patient visit, according to a recent report. When compared with the $103 reimbursement for urgent care, this is also important to consider.
There is a major difference in how long someone needs to wait to see a doctor or mid-level provider at an urgent care facility. Approximately 60% of these centers keep their patients waiting for less than 15 minutes. It’s also important to note that 65% of these facilities always have a physician on-site.
In 2014, for example, 97% of the available urgent care centers were open throughout the entire week, including weekends, for a minimum of four hours.
Non-Emergency Visits to Emergency Rooms
In a Truven Health Analytics report that addressed consumer-sponsored insurance coverage, it was found that 70% of the visits to emergency rooms were non-emergency conditions that could have been handled in an outpatient setting.
A private study conducted by Millman also found that there are a large number of non-emergency visits. They determined that around 44%-to-65% of these patients could have gone to an urgent care clinic rather than the emergency room.
Parents and care-takers want to ensure that their children are receiving the best possible care. The choice to immediately go the emergency room may be based on a stressful situation and it is a natural emotional response. Once parents become better informed on the treatments and services pediatric urgent care facilities can provide, they are more likely to choose not to go to the emergency room. They are also more likely to choose a pediatric urgent care clinic when they realize that it is much more affordable.