How Much Does Urgent Care Cost?
Urgent care, or immediate care, refers to the prompt delivery of ambulatory services to people experiencing minor illnesses and injuries in a facility dedicated to the delivery of medical care outside of an emergency department, without the long waits and emergency room visits. An urgent care center is regarded as an affordable and more accessible option to hospital emergency rooms and act as after-hour doctor offices.
How much does it cost?
- For a simple visit to the urgent care without any sort of vaccination, procedure, or medication, the costs for a single urgent care visit can hover around the $75 to $160 range without health insurance.
- However, if you have health insurance, urgent care should be covered and the patient will only be required to pay co-pays, deductibles, etc. To find a new policy or maybe switch the one you have now, consider browsing through hundreds on eHealthInsurance.com.
- UrgentCareCenters.com states that the basic urgent care costs usually range from $75 to $150 per visit, depending on location and if the patient has insurance.
- According to Debt.org, urgent care costs are considerably less than ER costs. The site quotes a study by the Annals of Internal Medicine stating that the average cost of an urgent care visit for three common ailments was $155, while other estimates place an average visit in the range of $71 to $125.
- The following are Medica Choice Network estimates for nine common minor illnesses treated at urgent care facilities:
- allergies: $97
- acute bronchitis: $127
- earache: $110
- sore throat: $94
- pink eye: $102
- sinusitis: $112
- strep throat: $111
- upper respiratory infections: $111
- urinary tract infections: $110
- According to ConsumerReports.org, the cost of urgent-care is moderate and is about $120. The price is comparable to usual doctor visits, but much lower than emergency room (ER) costs. Additionally, the insurance co-pay is lower than in an ER setup.
What is going to be included?
- Urgent care centers provide services on a walk-in basis, meaning that there is no appointment necessary. This type of care covers treatment for less serious medical conditions or traumas. If you are suffering from something that is not an emergency but cannot wait until you can get a doctor’s appointment, urgent care is the place to go.
- The most common illnesses or injuries covered by urgent care are allergies, rashes, pinkeye, stitches, sprains, strains, cuts and bruises, minor head injuries, minor broken bones, mild asthma attacks, minor infections, colds, coughs, sore throats, rashes, minor burns, urinary tract infections, and pelvic infections. Urgent care staff includes urgent care physicians, registered nurses, and nurse practitioners.
- Urgent care visits are typically paid for using the fee-for-service method. Many of these facilities accept most private health insurance plans, with average co-pays ranging from $25 to $50. Self-paying individuals are usually asked to make a down payment for a visit, with other charges set for payment at a later date. Uninsured patients are usually given cash discounts.
What are the extra costs?
- Medication is not typically included in urgent care. The cost of the medications depends on the type and amount that is prescribed to complete the treatment.
- Tests may also be required in urgent care facilities depending on the medical condition. While the cost of these tests is chiefly lower than in emergency rooms, it can still be a considerable cost depending on the type of test requested.
- Visiting an urgent care center during their extended hours or going to a 24-hour urgent care facility can cost higher. The reason is that some of these centers charge extra for visits conducted during irregular hours.
Factors that influence the price:
- Facility. Hospitals normally charge higher since it costs a lot of money to support all the equipment and staff needed to operate the facility. On the other hand, urgent care centers are usually smaller in size, but still have the necessary equipment needed to run the center efficiently.
- Fees. Hospitals usually charge their patients with facility fees during an emergency room visit, and then they send the patient’s insurance provider a separate bill for the doctor’s fee. With urgent care clinics, the insurance company only gets one bill, which is the doctor’s fee. In general, fees are much lower when using an urgent care facility versus an emergency room.
Tips to know:
- Urgent care services are typically for medical concerns that are not life-threatening and do not require hospitalization.
- Sometimes, going to the urgent care clinic may be somewhat of a waste. If your condition is more serious than you thought, the clinic will probably stabilize you and then send you to the ER, meaning that you will have to pay for both facilities. On the other hand, if it is something minor, the clinic may prescribe medication or bandage the are and then tell you to follow up with your family doctor; this will also cost more money.
- Urgent care centers may be connected with a hospital or they may be separate facilities.
- Most urgent care centers accept cash, credit (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover) and debit cards.
How can I save money?
- Individuals without insurance usually pay higher when buying medications. The costs can be considerably reduced by buying generic medicines rather than the branded options.
- Make sure to check with your insurance regarding which urgent care clinics they cover. The insurance will sometimes give you a list of clinics at which they will cover the most costs. Try to go to the insurance company’s preferred clinic id possible.
- Uninsured patients who get medical attention in an urgent care facility obtain cash discounts as well as the option to pay their bill in full at a later date.