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.
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