Study Challenges Cost-Saving Potential of Urgent Care

Although urgent care centers have long been trumpeted as a more economical care option than the emergency department (ED) for non-life-threatening conditions, a new study suggests that health insurers might want to re-evaluate that truism.

The study, published in the April issue of Health Affairs, builds on past research by confirming that the presence of urgent care centers in any given area does in fact reduce lower-acuity ED visits. Yet researchers went a step further and asked whether urgent care centers reduced ED visits enough “to make up for the fact that more people are going to go to care when it’s more convenient and lower cost and closer and presumably lower wait time,” explains Ari Friedman, M.D., one of the study’s co-authors and an assistant professor of emergency medicine, medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Leslie Small

Leslie has been reporting and editing in various journalism roles for nearly a decade. Most recently, she was the senior editor of FierceHealthPayer, an e-newsletter covering the health insurance industry. A graduate of Penn State University, she previously served in editing roles at newspapers in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Colorado.

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