It would be hard for a consumer not to notice the growth in urgent care centers and urgent care advertising over the last few years. And it is hard not to wonder what the effect on health care spending is for those centers. A report from the Center for Studying Health System Change examines the effect of these centers. (CSHSC Report) Amid concerns over the use and cost of emergency departments, coupled with often-stressed primary care resources, urgent care centers, which now number more than 9,000, have become an alternative that is often promoted even by payers. While they tend to be more slightly more expensive than regular primary care, they are less costly than emergency rooms. And for provider systems they may be a competitive alternative to retail and on site clinics that address some of the same needs. The Center surveyed interested parties in six cities–Detroit, Jacksonville, Minneapolis, Raleigh-Durham, Phoenix and San Francisco–to get perspectives on the growth and use of urgent care. They found that the growth of the centers was driven by a desire to respond to consumer needs for convenience and for service when their primary care source was not open. The centers have largely been opened in urban and suburban areas, usually somewhat well-off, and are aimed at self-pay or commercially insured patients. Most are owned by physicians or hospitals, but some by private companies. While payers have been leery, many have come to see urgent care as a potential money-saver and have adjusted copays accordingly. Continuity of care concerns have been expressed, but increased use of EHRs and HIEs allows for amelioration of some of those concerns and many urgent care users, especially younger patients, don’t have a regular source of primary care. Overall, the report seems positive, but notes that careful monitoring and further research is probably necessary to ascertain the beneficial or negative effects of a growth in urgent care.
✅ Subscribe via Email
About this Blog
The Healthy Skeptic is a website about the health care system, and is written by Kevin Roche, who has many years of experience working in the health industry. Mr. Roche is available to assist health care companies through consulting arrangements through Roche Consulting, LLC and may be reached at [email protected].
Healthy Skeptic Podcast
This is an outstanding report on total global drug spending and trends, with projections out to 2025. It helps you understand this important area of health care, which does much...
June 1, 2021
MedPAC 2019 Report to Congress
June 18, 2019
Mercer, a large benefits consulting firm, confirms that health plan premiums are rising in 2023, publishing survey results showing that employers expect an increase of costs by at least 5%....
December 9, 2022
More money pouring into young health care companies as Dispatch Health gains $330 million in new capital to deliver high acuity health care in a patient’s home, rather than a...
November 30, 2022
A lot of money is invested in health care startups and growth companies, since health care is 20% of the economy, but the returns aren’t always good. Here is another...
November 1, 2022
Access ACO Care Management Chronic Disease Comparative Effectiveness Consumer Directed Health Consumers Devices Disease Management Drugs EHRs Elder Care End-of-Life Care FDA Financings Genomics Government Health Care Costs Health Care Quality Health Care Reform Health Insurance Health Insurance Exchange HIT HomeCare Hospital Hospital Readmissions Legislation M&A Malpractice Meaningful Use Medicaid Medical Care Medicare Medicare Advantage Mobile Pay For Performance Pharmaceutical Physicians Providers Regulation Repealing Reform Telehealth Telemedicine Wellness and Prevention Workplace