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MedSpring Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room

Typical co-pay (1) ER ~ $100-$200+
Urgent Care ~ $50
Typical cost (2) ER ~ $1,400
Urgent Care ~ $175
Typical time ER 4+ hours
Urgent Care 1 hour

When facing a condition that threatens life or limb, a large hospital emergency room is the right place to go. However, for most other injuries and illnesses that require urgent attention, MedSpring Urgent Care can provide quick, convenient access to a physician who is supported by digital x-rays and lab equipment...without the ER cost and hassle.

In fact, several national health research organizations have released studies indicating that a large number of ER visits could be better handled in an urgent care environment. HealthCore found that for every visit to a retail clinic, there were 15 trips to an ER for the same condition. They concluded that people with health insurance "could save anywhere from $50 to $400 per visit in out-of-pocket costs" by avoiding the ER. For those in high-deductible plans or paying for their own care, the patient's savings can be even greater.

Buyer Beware: A "free-standing ER" may look like an urgent care center, but charge the same amount as a full-service ER at a large hospital. This means you will be charged as if you had visited the emergency room, and your insurance plan's ER copay will apply. We've listened to many angry people who did not realize they were getting charged full ER rates at these facilities until after they received the separate bills weeks later from the facility, doctors and sometimes others.

And if time is a factor, urgent care visits are often much quicker. Even if an ER advertises low "wait times," that often does not include the total time required to conclude treatment and check out from a busy ER setting. Nationally, the average time to complete an ER visit is over four hours, versus an hour or less for most MedSpring visits.


(1) This is what you typically pay if you have met your deductible. In addition to the initial co-pay at the ER, you will usually receive additional bills from the doctors and others. The urgent care bill includes everything.

(2) This is what you typically pay if you have not met your deductible for the year. Note: if you are self-insured, the savings is usually more.

Company and Milliman & Company data for Texas, adjusted for discounts & severity.