ER costs vs. urgent care facility costs
As you can see, some of the reasons people go to urgent care clinics are identical to reasons they go to an emergency room. In these instances, the difference is not care, but cost. According to Medica Choice Network, the expense to treat a sore throat in an ER (in 2010) is about $525 versus just $94 at an urgent care facility.
Your options for reducing costs when you must go to the ER
If your condition amounts to a true emergency, visits to an ER can end up costing much more than an urgent care clinic. One reason is that the medical issue may require the ER staff to conduct tests on a patient such as MRIs or lab tests, take X-rays, or perform complicated procedures. Insurance may not cover these procedures when they are performed on an emergency basis.
You can make emergency care costs more affordable by:
- Talking to the billing department about negotiating your bill amount
- Asking for a payment plan
- Taking advantage of financial aid programs
- Crowdfunding the medical expenses
- Itemizing the bill to make sure all fees accounted are legitimate
Additional insurance that can offset costs for emergency care
There are supplemental insurance policies that can assist with medical emergency costs. These include:
- Accident Insurance - helps with accidents that require emergency medical attention
- Critical Illness Insurance - assists with expenses incurred during a serious illness
You can buy these insurance policies on your own, but they can be pricey. A more affordable option is to purchase these through your employer, union, or professional association, many of which offer these types of insurance as an optional benefit at reduced rates.