Is Urgent Care Like the Emergency Room?

Is Urgent Care Like the Emergency Room?

You are preparing supper at home when you accidentally slice through your thumb to the bone. In a rush to get medical attention, you rush to an emergency room such as However, that is not your only option. You could go to an urgent care center where you may end up paying a fraction of the cost. To get to know whether you should go to the critical care facility or emergency room, here are a few differences you should understand. It should help you to make your choice.

When you should Visit the Emergency Room

The primary way to choose between the emergency room and urgent care is to ask yourself why you are visiting. If the answer is that you think the condition is life-threatening, then you should visit the emergency room.

However, you may not always be able to determine if this is the case. If that were so, the best decision would be for you to go to the emergency room and let the specialists there determine it for you.

There is no fixed list of conditions for which, you should only choose the ER. However, if you feel the condition could put your life at risk, the ER is the best choice.

When to Choose Urgent Care

There is also no fixed list of situations under which to go to an urgent care center. The rule is that if the condition is not life-threatening but still requires immediate treatment, you should go to critical care.

However, if the person is showing signs of being in a life-threatening situation, you should call the ambulance and let them take patients to the ER. The care they receive could make the difference between life and death.

Cost and Time are in Favor of Urgent Care

The cost of an ER visit makes it quite encouraging to visit an urgent care center. On average, critical care costs are $50 to $150. It will be dependent on the patient’s insurance cover and the kind of treatment they require.

About 70% of all people who visit urgent care centers have insurance. Thus, the only cost they incur is co-pay. For those without insurance, they have to pay for things such as lab tests, x-rat, and casting. Thus, they can expect to pay a bit more, but it will still be quite affordable.

On the other hand, visiting the ER can be quite costly. One study put the median cost at about $2000. Another issue with the ER is time. At urgent care centers, patients are seen on a first come first serve basis.

However, the ER will see patients depending on how severe it thinks their situation might be. It is quite common for people with things such as a fractured finger to have to wait for hours to be seen by the doctor. The reason for this is that it is not considered a major emergency. At an urgent care center, wait times can be as short as 30 minutes.

Cost for the ER vs. Urgent Care

According to various studies carried out over the years, the cost of the ER is about four times that of the urgent care for most conditions. For instance, if you have an allergy and you visit the ER, you can expect to pay about $350. The same will cost you just about $90 if you go to the urgent care center.

The Prudent Layperson Standard (PLS)

When deciding whether to go to the ER or urgent care, the PLS is one of the significant factors to take into account. It is a standard which states that each person should be able to make a decision based on their layman’s understanding of medicine. Insurers use this rule to determine whether the visit to the ER was justified.

If you go to the ER for something like a cough, the insurer may refuse to pay for the costs you incur. If you had gone to an urgent care center, the insurer might agree to cover you since the price of such treatment is quite cheap there.

It could mean you accrue more debt on your credit card. However, if the case is borderline, the insurer may agree to cover you. It is a situation where you are unsure whether you would have survived or not. For instance, if you had shortness of breath, fainting, or dizziness, you can visit the ER and your insurer will pay for it.

However, if you believe that your case was genuine, it is still possible to appeal. The process is not simple, but if you are determined, the insurance will agree with you and pay for the treatment. To ensure that your insurer will agree with you study the appeal process. For costs running into tens of thousands of dollars, you may want to consider getting a lawyer to help you with the process.