Economics of an Urgent Care Center in a Market of Emergency Departments

1664 WordsOct 12, 20127 Pages
Economics of an Urgent Care Center in a Market of Emergency Departments One of the contributors to the rising cost of Healthcare can be attributed to the over use of emergency departments (EDs) for non-emergency needs. In the greater Capitol/First/Beacon Hill area there are three major hospitals (Virginia Mason, Harborview, and Swedish) with emergency rooms and no urgent care centers with the exception of Group Health which is restricted to Group Health insurance members. The question I asked myself is, “Why does Group Health have urgent care for their insurance plan members and the major hospitals in Seattle do not.” Urgent vs. Emergency Care A study by the CDC showed that approximately 70 % of emergency department visits can be…show more content…
This will reduce the demand for ED visits and the ratio of patients with insurance to offset the cost of uncompensated care. With a decrease in demand we should see a decrease in the cost of emergency room visits as more patients get their non-emergency care at urgent care centers. The new healthcare reform will eventually reduce the burden on hospitals and insurance companies by providing the means for everyone to have healthcare and increase the ratio of insured patients seeking treatment. Urgent Care Economics Unlike an emergency department, urgent care centers do not charge facility fees. Insurance companies and patients are only charged for services rendered. Urgent care centers provide a high level of non-emergency care at a similar cost as it would to visit a doctor’s office which is about 1/10th of the cost of an emergency room visit. This includes minor procedures such as lacerations that need sutures, minor burns, casting of fractures, reduction of dislocated joints, and on the job injuries. Urgent care centers are for-profit and are not required to provide indigent care, but do not have the tax benefits of a not-for-profit hospital. The quality of care in an urgent care center is just a good in an emergency department for non-emergency care. The differentiating factor is follow-up care. Most emergency department physicians do not see their patients for follow-up care and only 2/3 of the patients will follow

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