(WTOL) – The hottest new trend when it comes to medicine is urgent care clinics that are taking the place of hospital emergency rooms. Many are going up, but are they worth visiting?
It seems every major shopping center now has a health clinic. There is a good reason for this though and it may be able to save bundles of money.
Today's high deductible health plans mean a simpler emergency room visit, such as a cut or a cough, can cost nearly $1,000.
"$963.70 was the bill for the emergency room. I thought it was crazy," said Sue Knox.
But people like Knox now have other options. Urgent care clinics, such as Doctors Express, are popping up everywhere.
"An emergency room can cost a patient between 500 and a $1,000, just for a basic illness or injury," said Mark Duffer, owner of Urgent Care.
Duffer said Urgent Care can treat patients for a fraction of the cost.
"The advantage is the average cost is going to be $150 to $200," said Duffer.
If a plan still uses co-pays those are also lower between $25 and $50, instead of $150 at the hospital. Plus, a physician is always present and can see patients quickly.
"They don't have to sit in the waiting room, when other things come in. Ambulances come in, people jump ahead of them in the line, because they have more life-threatening issues," said Dr. Paul Nugent of Urgent Care.
The clinic has a lab for blood work, an X-ray machine, and the ability to set broken bones and insert stitches.
"We we can handle some pretty good lacerations to keep people from going to the emergency room," said Dr. Nugent.
However, Dr. Nugent urges patients with a serious injury or breathing problems to rush to the hospital.
But for basic issues, like Lauren Purkey had, patients can save time and money.
"I mean I got in and out of here in a half hour. It took like 10 minutes to get in," said Purkey.
The only caution with these new urgent cares is what health plans they accept. Not all of them accept every insurance plan, which means patients could end up having to foot the entire bill.
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