Urgent Care is a category of medical services where patients can receive immediate medical attention in a healthcare facility without the hassles or costs associated with an emergency room.
Naturally, urgent care centers often focus more on immediate illnesses or conditions that don’t require the patient to visit a dedicated ER. Depending on the severity of your condition, walking into an urgent care facility can prevent a lot of unnecessary costs compared to a traditional emergency room.
However, urgent care centers also incur general medical bills, even if not as high as ERs. And the amount that you have to pay can easily vary depending on the treatment, procedures, and medication you received.
If you’re trying to seriously cut down on extra expenses, having the right insurance can help you save money on crucial medical bills. So, how much does urgent care cost with and without insurance? Read on to find out!
Types of Urgent Care
Before we get into the actual costs associated with urgent care, it’ll help us if we understand the different treatments that come under urgent care. Although there’s no strict list of treatments that qualify as urgent care, there are some common and recurring conditions that medical facilities normally label as urgent care.
- Allergies remain the most widely reported reason why people access urgent care. In severe cases of harsh symptoms, doctors advise seeking the ER instead of an urgent care center.
- Sinusitis occurs when a cold or allergy induces swelling of the sinus tissues. Urgent care attendants may use nasal sprays or allergy medication to help subside the effects.
- Bacterial or viral infections can cause acute bronchitis that requires medical aid and attention. In many cases, the condition is not so severe as to require emergency services.
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are also common among patients who visit an urgent center. In most cases, the attendant may prescribe the appropriate antibiotic medication to alleviate the effects.
- Transitions between major seasons often create many cases of sore throat. While home remedies work sometimes, people often prefer going for mild medical treatments available at urgent care facilities.
- Conditions like pink eye (conjunctivitis) are common, and people prefer urgent care instead of waiting for the symptoms to heal at home. Lubricating the eyes, cleaning eyelids, etc., are some of the ways urgent care centers may treat your pink eye.
These are merely some well-known examples of when you may prefer opting for urgent care. However, this is obviously not a full or exhaustive list of conditions treated at urgent care centers.
Essentially, any condition that is mild enough to avoid the emergency room yet inconvenient enough to seek medical attention can come under the urgent care category. Research suggests that the presence of nearby urgent care centers can bring down the volume of visits to the ER, especially among people who are uninsured.
Even if you don’t have a dedicated medical insurance program in place, auto insurance that includes provisions for personal injuries may help cover some costs during visits to urgent care.
Cost of Urgent Care Without Insurance
To understand the difference that insurance makes in your urgent care bills, let’s look at how much you may end up spending if you access urgent care without insurance.
The average cost of treating allergies at an urgent care facility is about $100. Without insurance, the added cost of tests, results, consultation, and medicine will visit cost well over $150.
Conditions like pink eye, earache, or a sore throat may also rake up treatment bills that hover around the $100 figure.
Depending on the kind of urgent care treatments you get, a sinus condition may cost anywhere from $50 to $110. On the other hand, respiratory infections and UTIs will cost $120 or more, depending on the severity of your condition and the medication prescribed.
Given these figures, you can expect urgent care costs to fall between $70 to $150 on average usually. This range is comparatively lower and a far cry from the $1,200 average cost that patients incur when visiting the ER for the same conditions.
However, even an extra $100 unexpected expense can be inconvenient when you’re trying to balance a tight budget. This is where you can grab the advantage if you have the right insurance plan in place.
Relying on a life insurance program is a great idea in the long run. However, you want a more specific medical insurance plan in the short run, much like you’d prefer an extensive car insurance plan for unexpected accidents.
Cost of Urgent Care with Insurance
Given the convenience and easy walk-in accessibility of urgent care, most insurance plans will refrain from offering 100% coverage. This means you can expect to pay out a portion of the urgent care expenses from your pocket even though your insurance plan applies.
However, the practical benefit here is that you don’t have to cover the whole bill from your purse/wallet. That’s because the right insurance program will pay a substantial portion of the expenses.
In most instances, urgent care comes under insurance provisions where you have to co-pay. Co-payment is when the insurance plan requires you to either match the insuring company’s payment or cover an agreed percentage of the bill.
Insurance companies may also resort to a fixed amount as a co-payment from you instead of a percentage.
For example, a visit to the urgent care center for an allergy may cost $110. Here, the insurance company may require you to finance a fixed co-payment amount of $30. But once you clear your portion of the payment ($30), the remaining $80 will be borne by your medical insurance.
This arrangement is even more beneficial when your urgent care procedure is a more expensive option, like an upper respiratory infection. These conditions can create medical bills of up to $200 or more in some cases. If you’re willing to meet your co-payment requirements, your insurance company may bear the cost of 60-70% of the bill.
At first glance, the co-payment or long-duration deductibles demanded by insurance companies on urgent care seems like an extra expense. However, if you frequently make trips to urgent care centers, the advantage of partnering up with the right insurance program may save you thousands of dollars over time.