Emergency Room vs. Urgent Care

Posted: June 15, 2017


One of the most consistent goals we see among our clients is to save their employees money when it comes to healthcare. Although premiums are the most obvious place to look at controlling cost, there are others. We’ve posted a quick guide to saving on costs before. But now, we thought it was time to take a more in-depth look at strategies. The first of these important strategies is to choose your provider wisely. Often, when choosing where to go, people choose the emergency room over urgent care clinics. There are many reasons for this. One of the major reasons people choose the ER over urgent care is because they aren’t familiar with the difference between the two. This can result in large medical bills for non-life-threatening conditions. Making the right decision about where to go can not only save you time, it can save you money too.

The Emergency Room

When choosing between the ER and Urgent Care, severity of the illness or injury is the most important factor. If experiencing a potentially life-threatening event (severe chest pains, spinal injuries, severe burns, seizures, etc) the ER is right place to go. ER doctors treat patients according to the severity of their injuries. This means that those with less severe injuries tend to wait longer as patients with more critical injuries or illnesses are treated first. A visit to the ER typically costs around $1,400, given the tests and care provided.

Urgent Care

In contrast, Urgent Care clinics exist to provide care for injuries and illnesses that are not life-threatening (such as sprains, fever, infection, dehydration, etc). These clinics take patients as they come. A trip to Urgent Care is also usually much cheaper than a trip to the ER. A visit to Urgent Care tends to cost around $200. Like most ER’s, Urgent Care clinics are usually open seven days a week. They are also usually open longer than normal business hours. Urgent Care exists for those times when your doctor’s office is closed, or you can’t wait for an appointment. They’re a great resource that are significantly cheaper than an ER visit.

Conclusion: When to Go Where

When your primary doctor isn’t available or you’re experiencing life-threatening symptoms, it’s important to know where to go. If your illness or injury is non-life threatening, an Urgent Care clinic is probably your best option. These areas are staffed with doctors and nurses who can treat and diagnose your injury or illness. Urgent Care clinics are cheaper, faster, and provide quality care. For times when you experience a life threatening injury, the ER is the best option. ER’s are staffed 24/7, and have access to the best specialized care. In cases where treatment means the difference between life and death, the ER is best option.

The next time you experience an injury or illness and need care, make sure you make the right choice. You know you body. If you think your injury or illness is life-threatening, don’t hesitate to dial 911 and get to the emergency room. In other cases, when you need care urgently for a non-life threatening injury or illness, try and head to an Urgent Care clinic. It’ll save you money over and ER visit, and if the doctor’s there decide you need emergency care, they can get you there fast.


Faye Sorensen

For more information on articles such as this, contact Faye Sorensen at 612-217-0329.

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