It’s best to avoid emergency rooms in situations when other options are available. Often, you will have the ability to choose a less stressful, less costly, more efficient alternative, such as an urgent care clinic.
There are now more than 10,000 urgent care facilities across the country that handle aches, pains, cuts, and bruises more quickly than a family doctor and at a fraction of the cost of a hospital emergency room. These clinics started out locally owned and operated. But increasingly they are operating as franchises of national brands. The biggest urgent care chains are Concentra (owned by Humana), U.S. Health Works, MedExpress, and American Family Care (AFC). In most cases no appointment is necessary – just walk in and get treated.
Obamacare (specifically its expansion of the Medicaid rolls) is contributing to the over-crowding of emergency rooms in many parts of the country. Medicaid patients, the uninsured, and undocumented immigrants are using ER services for relatively minor ailments. By law, emergency rooms can’t turn away people who seek care. But many people who go to emergency rooms don’t have genuine emergencies.
According to Blue Cross Blue Shield, these types of conditions may necessitate an ER visit:
- Chest pain.
- Sudden or severe pain.
- Abdominal pain.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Severe bleeding.
- A head injury.
- Other major trauma.
When you require non-emergency treatment, you can enjoy savings of around 80% by opting for urgent care instead.