Urgent Care Vs. Emergency Room

Should you go to the ER or Urgent Care? How to Decide

By BenefitsApp

Are your employees visiting the emergency room at exorbitant cost when they should be going to an urgent care or minute clinic?

How are you supposed to decide if you should be visiting an Urgent Care facility or going straight to the Emergency Room? 

It’s important to know where to go when you’re dealing with an illness or injury. If you need immediate medical attention, your first thought may be to go to the emergency room (ER). But if your condition isn’t serious or life-threatening, you may have a less expensive choice. An urgent care center provides quality care like an ER, but can save you hundreds of dollars.

The average cost of an ER visit is about $1,300 to $1,400. But many urgent care visits cost an average of $150. If you have insurance, you’ll see a difference in your copay and other out-of-pocket expenses. (HealthGrades)

Emergency Room

A trip to the Emergency Rooms should be reserved for true medical emergencies. The Emergency Room handles life-threatening situations, trauma, and health issues that need surgical attention. Most hospitals have an emergency room that’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but that does not mean it is your best option for urgent care.

An emergency room may be best if you experience: (Cigna)

  • Sudden numbness or weakness
  • Disorientation or difficulty speaking
  • Sudden dizziness or loss of coordination
  • Seizure or loss of consciousness
  • Shortness of breath or severe asthma attack
  • Head injury/major trauma
  • Blurry or loss of vision
  • Severe cuts or burns
  • Heart attack, chest pain or chest pressure
  • Overdose
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Dismemberment

Research suggests approximately 60 percent of ER patients could be seen at urgent care centers. According to experts, that would result in an 80 percent reduction in insurer costs and a 58 percent reduction in consumer costs. (PhysicianOne)

Urgent Care Centers

Urgent care centers handle non-life-threatening situations, and many are staffed with doctors and nurses who have access to x-rays and labs onsite. Most urgent care centers are open late and on weekends and holidays.

An urgent care center can treat you for common conditions such as: (Cigna)

  • Earaches and infections
  • Minor cuts, sprains and burns
  • Fever and flu symptoms
  • Cough, cold and sore throat
  • Animal bites
  • Mild asthma
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Headaches
  • Back and joint pain

How BenefitsApp Can help you lower cost

BenefitsApp has the unique ability to hold searchable databases within the app. These databases can list all urgent care faculties in a specific area, giving employees low-cost options to avoid the high-cost of emergency room visits.