When medical emergencies happen, we try to make the best of a nerve-wracking situation. Knowing that we have the best medical care can make all the difference.
We’ve all heard of the emergency room. Many people opt to go there instead of a private facility. This is because the ER is more commonly known. People feel safer going someplace they already are familiar with. Most emergency rooms are located in hospitals instead of smaller centers that provide medical care. While emergency rooms are there for our benefit and to make us feel safe, do they truly benefit us as much as we think?
Emergency Rooms — Do Pros Outweigh Cons?
First off, What is an emergency room and what is it for?
An emergency room (ER) is the part of a hospital that provides immediate treatment for illnesses and trauma. The ER was designed for more life-threatening situations than your common cold. However, it’s common for people to go to the ER rather than urgent care centers. The emergency room is there for your convenience and has a lot of benefits. It is also one of the more expensive medical options. Emergency rooms are usually open 24/7. They are required by law to provide care to any patients in need, no matter the condition or regardless of the patient’s ability to pay for the visit.
The following list shows you what exactly is classified as an emergency and what injuries are best treated at an emergency room:
- Signs of heart attacks, including chest pain
- Symptoms of stroke, like sudden onset of numbness in the arms or legs
- Severe shortness of breath
- Significant life- or limb-threatening injuries
- Severe wounds and amputations
- Coughing up or vomiting blood
- Suicidal or homicidal feelings
When considering your options, know that the emergency room is always your best option if you are suffering from a life-or limb-threatening medical condition. Or, if your situation involves severe wounds or amputations. But in cases of your common colds, broken bones, or any other situation that isn’t severely serious is best treated at an urgent care center.
Urgent Care — What It Is And How It Benefits You
A lot of people think of a fast-acting serious medical condition when they hear the words, “urgent” and “urgent care.” In some areas that can be true. Urgent care offers medical services that will have you spending less time in the waiting room. Urgent care centers help provide you with easy access to quality healthcare when your primary care physician offices are closed. Deciding where to get medical help is an important choice. Urgent care centers are usually open 7 days a week until 9 p.m. or later. Most don’t require you to have an appointment.
Urgent care offers many services. This list shows a wide array of conditions and symptoms they can help with:
- Accidents and falls
- Cuts that don’t involve much blood but might need stitches
- Breathing difficulties, such as mild to moderate asthma
- Diagnostic services, including X-rays and laboratory tests
- Eye irritation and redness
- Fever or flu
- Minor broken bones and fractures in fingers or toes
- Moderate back problems
- Severe sore throat or cough
- Skin rashes and infections
- Sprains and strains
- Urinary tract infections
- Vomiting, diarrhea, or dehydration
Pricing Your Options
Medical emergencies are often sudden and unexpected. In many cases, people are more concerned with the price of medical care rather than the benefits of their care and well-being. Now that we’ve discussed the differences in services between emergencies rooms and urgent care centers, we can move into the discussion of affordability and which services will often cost you more.
When it comes to a medical emergency, people are going to want medical treatment wherever they can get it as quick as possible. With that in mind, people make decisions more often on convenience, rather than the cost. With 5,000 emergency rooms providing treatment 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, emergency rooms offer a more convenient choice.
But just because it’s convenient doesn’t mean its always the right choice. Emergency room visit costs can vary based on what kind of treatment you’re receiving, but the average price is around $1,200 to even as high as $2,200. The average urgent care visits range from $50 to $150, depending on the patient’s level of treatment. Even without insurance and paying out of pocket, the cost of your treatment will be much cheaper than an emergency room visit, and you’ll spend less time in the waiting room.
What should you do if the bill for a visit to the emergency room is more than you can afford?
There many options that are available to people that can’t always afford to pay the medical bill. You can set-up a payment plan and see what price the hospital is willing to work with you on spending. You can ask the hospital if they work with any charities that offer financial aid for people who can’t afford their bill. If you think by chance you were overcharged you can ask the hospital for itemized accounting and see if all the items make sense for the procedure you went through. Lastly, you can even Crowdfund the bill. There are crowdfunding sites online like Giveforward.com, Fundly.com, and youcaring.com that are specifically aimed at helping people manage medical debt. Hospitals are understanding, they’re there to help so don’t be afraid to ask about your options when it comes to your financial coverage on your medical bill.
With medical emergencies happening every day, there isn’t always enough time to have a debate on where to go or which medical center offers cheaper or better services. When you are put in that situation, you want to go somewhere you feel safe and comfortable, and that’s often a place that’s the most convenient for you, and that’s okay.
A disclaimer note: If you are having a medical emergency and are worried about the prices of the services, don’t fret. Go somewhere you feel safest or comfortable. While financial coverage can be a big worry for a lot of individuals, it’s important to remember that your health, safety, and well-being is put first.
The information in this post was gathered from the following sources.