Urgent care centers are becoming an increasingly popular means of receiving general, non-emergency physician care within the United States. There are currently 7,000 urgent care centers located across the country, with approximately 600 new clinics opened each year since 2011.
In a recent article posted in Yahoo! Finance, writer Mandi Woodruff explores urgent care’s recent rise in popularity, where urgent care centers are heading, and what the general public should know about their services.
Woodruff reports that while the centers have recently gained momentum in the past seven years, urgent care has existed since the 1970s. But in the face of increased insurance with exorbitantly high deductibles, urgent care has become the affordable health care choice for many individuals and families.
According to Yahoo! Finance, a family with a high deductible insurance plan could pay thousands before insurance kicked in. With urgent care, however, the cost of a visit averages around $155.
“From a big picture standpoint, there continues to be a strong movement away from in-patient care and a push to access lower-cost options,” Steve Sellars, the Urgent Care Assocation of America president-elect, told Yahoo! Finance. “We fit somewhere between primary care and the ER.”
While these services are often cheaper, Woodruff warns that urgent care centers are not always transparent about their insurance carriers. Because of this, many patients leave with a bill that’s a lot bigger than expected.
Woodruff writes, “If the clinic isn’t in your insurer’s specific network, you may pay more than you had banked on. You can also check on your insurer’s website to see if they have a list of urgent care clinics included under your plan.”
As of now, there are no federal regulations imposed on the 7,000 urgent care centers scattered across the country. As urgent care increasingly fills a well-needed niche in America, but many states are trying to impose tighter regulations.
Arizona, for example, requires urgent care centers to have specific licensing in order to provide specialty healthcare services.