Why is it important to consider using Urgent Care vs. the Emergency Room

Urgent care centers differ from emergency rooms in many ways. While they provide many of the same services, they do not have the same pricing schedules or ability to treat all emergent needs.  While an ER could treat any of the urgent care issues, it is not recommended because emergency rooms are often busier and more expensive.  Also, it is important to note that urgent care centers may not be able to treat the illnesses listed for emergency rooms. With that being said, the top diagnosis at both urgent care centers and emergency rooms, nearly 50% of them are the same.

When you go to the urgent care clinic, you will be evaluated by caring, compassionate providers that are able to assess and treat your urgent care needs.  Your urgent care provider will not be your primary care provider, but will have access to your medical record to help them with your medical needs.  At ACHS, our goal is for you to be actively informed of the best practices when choosing your needs for urgent healthcare.  This will help you receive optimal care for your medical concerns, and help decrease the financial stress that sometimes accompanies visits to a healthcare facility.

Urgent Care Emergency Room
Single complaint reason for visit Chest pain
Simple laceration Difficulty breathing
Suture removal Fainting or loss of consciousness
Sprains and strains Seizure
Ear pain/infection Severe bleeding
Sinus pain/infection Severe head, neck or back trauma
Urinary tract infection Loss of limb or severe bone fracture
Cough, cold, sore throat Moderate to severe burn
Animal bites or stings  
Rash or skin irritations  
Minor Burns  
Simple bone fracture  
Nausea, vomiting, stomach virus  


Average Cost Difference for Emergency Room Visits vs. Urgent Care Visits with the same diagnosis; 2018

Here are some 2018 estimates from Medica, a health insurance company, of how the cost of treating specific illnesses in the ER compares to the cost of treating them in urgent care:

  • Allergies: $733 in ER, $200 in urgent care
  • Bronchitis: $1,074 in ER, $242 in urgent care
  • Earache: $779 in ER, $229 in urgent care
  • Pinkeye: $621 in ER, $184 in urgent care
  • Strep Throat: $1,043 in ER, $231 in urgent care
  • Urinary Tract Infection: $1,264 in ER, $247 in urgent care

ACHS Approximate Averages for the same level of service/diagnosis, 2018

99213*  (UC Clinic)    $114      vs    99283 ER Visit minimal charge;  $755

99214** (UC Clinic)   $160      vs    99284 ER Visit minimal charge;  $1195

*99213- established patient, moderate level of service, such as an evaluation for a cold or cough with a prescription

**99214- established patient, more extensive level of service, such as an evaluation of a broken bone that requires an x-ray and fitting for ortho appliance

(note that the fees listed do not include costs for ancillary services such as labs and x-ray)

Rebecca McCann, ARNP

ACHS Urgent Care Provider

The information provided on the Adair County Health System’s Blog is not a substitute for professional medical advice and care. If you have specific needs, please see a professional health care provider.
Any references to products, services, or health care providers on this web site are not a recommendation or endorsement of products, services or providers. Links to other Web sites from this site are provided for convenience and do not constitute or imply endorsement.
Effort is taken to insure accurate information, however we cannot guarantee completeness or timeliness.



This entry was posted in Clinics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Posted May 23, 2018 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for helping me understand differences between urgent care and emergency rooms. It’s good to know that urgent care could help with urinary tract infections. That being said, it sounds like you should really know early signs of this infection so you can get treatment as soon as possible.

  2. Posted May 30, 2018 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    It’s great to know that walk-in clinics are different from going to an emergency room because the former is much cheaper. As far as I know, the emergency room is also more concerned with life-threatening cases. Knowing that urgent care costs less than the ER, I’ll make sure to always choose the former to get immediate attention as long as my case isn’t a life or death situation. Thanks for this information!

  3. Posted August 8, 2018 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t had any medical emergencies in my family recently, but if I do, I want to be prepared for them. I’ve never known what the difference is between an urgent care and an emergency room. I like that this article gives a list of what symptoms should go where. It’s interesting hat an animal bite should go to urgent care.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


Community Action Needs Plan  |  Site by EDJE  |