To understand the reason for the rise in emergency room visits, there are several factors to look at. Medical insurance seems to be a culprit on both sides of the coin for increased ER visits.
Patients With Coverage
On one side, there are the patients whose healthcare is covered but feel the ER is the best place to go because either their primary care physician’s office was not open (typically over nights, weekends or holidays), or they felt only a hospital could help them with their problem.
Patients Without Coverage
On the other side of the insurance coin are the set of patients who cannot afford to pay for a primary care physician out of pocket and know that when they visit an emergency room, they cannot be turned away or denied medical attention. Despite the outrageous costs of emergency room visits, especially during off-hours, the ER will still bill the patient and work with them on payments. Unfortunately, this usually leads to tens of thousands of dollars in debt that is rarely, if ever, paid off.
Health Care Study Reveals Stunning Answer to ER Crowding
According to a 2011 study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, the staggering majority of patients visiting the emergency room regardless of health care coverage status – 79.7% – quoted the reason they sought ER care was due to lack of access to other providers. This is where urgent care centers and walk-in clinics come in.
Patients Urged to Use Urgent Care in Lieu of ER
Urgent care centers are equipped to handle nearly all medical needs, from basic health care to minor emergencies like deep lacerations, burns, breathing problems, broken bones and much more. These walk-in clinics offer low-cost health care and extended hours so that access is not a problem and there is never a wait to get an appointment.
Remember: the only reason you should visit an emergency room is for a life-or-death situation. If a person is not breathing, is bleeding heavily or experiencing any other condition in which life may be at risk, seek an ER immediately. Otherwise, for the sake of patients who do have a life-threatening situation, please consider visiting an urgent care center instead, where you will receive immediate quality medical care at a small fraction of the cost of an emergency room.