Some people choose the ER for non-emergencies despite the costs
COLUMBIA – Convenience may outweigh the cost of expensive hospital bills when choosing care at an emergency room for non-emergencies.
In an assessment in 2015, Truven Health Analytics found a quarter of emergency room visits didn’t require immediate attention and 41 percent received care that could have been done in the doctor's office.
Physician Scott Schultz said he noticed similar trend when we was working as an EMT in Columbia.
He realized people were going to the ER because sometimes they didn’t have any options available if it was past regular business hours or the primary physician was out of town. That’s when he changed jobs to urgent care.
He said urgent care has helped ease the burden of non-emergencies at the ER.
“Its amazing in seven years to see how that has changed where a lot of people didn’t even know what urgent care was to a large percentage of the population using urgent cares for their acute care needs,” Schultz said.
Schultz said urgent care has lessened the need for unnecessary visits to the ER because of longer business hours, lower costs and shorter wait times. He said a visit to the ER for a minor problem like allergies could take a hit to your pocketbook.
“I imagine emergency departments are one thousand dollars now between one hundred $150. The economics are pretty impressive,” Schultz said.
Schultz said parents are more likely to take their children with an illness like pink eye to the ER, even if they have to pay more.
“Say you’re a working parent your kid is in daycare your kid has pink eye. You cant get them into a pediatrician the day care will not allow them back in until they’re treated," Schultz said. "It is more cost effective to go to the emergency department so you can get back to work instead of staying home with your child."
Schultz said in the future health care will be looking to “on demand” health care, and soon some doctor appointments could be done via the Internet.
Schultz said emergency departments are still needed and important.
“It’s there it’s always busy. There’s a reason there’s a wait there but those are for life and limb threatening illnesses, Schultz said. “Urgent cares are more for the things that need to be taken care of in life but aren’t life or limb threatening.”
Schultz said urgent care is high functioning but isn’t equal to an emergency room.