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Summertime Accidents: Why Independent Urgent Care Centers are a Better Choice than ERS or Hospital UCs

Summary: Independent Urgent Care Centers can handle most accidents but at a much lower cost and higher convenience than Emergency Rooms. A typical ER X-ray visit will cost more than $1750 and take four hours of waiting. Our Cash Pay is only $175 with less than a 10-minute wait!

If you have an unfortunate accident outdoors, biking, hiking, running, or any other fun outdoor activities, where do you go? Most often, specialists and even primary care physicians are not immediately available and require an appointment in advance. Further primary care physicians do not generally have X-ray or a procedure room to treat many injuries and accidents. So, where do you go? Most people think Emergency Rooms. But did you know that Independent Urgent Care Centers, like AFC Urgent Care Richmond [2], are a much more affordable and convenient option? Like ERs, we can help with same-day treatment during regular hours, evening hours, and weekends. The severity determines whether an expensive ER is necessary. ERs are for Life-Threatening or Limb -threatening incidents such as a spine injury, concussion, compound fracture, heart attacks, or gunshot wounds. Because of this, ER's are more expensive as they require special equipment, operating rooms, and highly specialized staff to handle critical conditions. Many "ER" visits, however, are not necessary. An Independent Urgent Care Center can treat the same injuries at a much lower cost with much greater convenience. A recent study by the United Health Care Group found that 40% of Emergency Room visits could be replaced by ed by Urgent Care Center visits at a net savings of $32 billion per year [3].

Most summertime accidents are not life-threatening or limb-threatening. There is no good reason to go to an expensive ER for minor incidents. To illustrate, when someone has a minor fracture and go to an ER instead of an Independent Urgent Care Center, three things will generally happen. First, they will get a hefty bill. If they do not have insurance, they will get charged at least $1750. If they have insurance, they will get a very large copay ($250 - $500). In comparison, an X-ray visit at AFC Urgent Care Richmond is only $175 without insurance or a typical low $0 - $50 copay from most insurances. Second, because they have a relatively minor injury, the patient will have to wait a long time before being seen. Indeed, the average ER wait is 4 hours. In contrast, the average wait at AFC Urgent Care Richmond is less than 10 minutes! Finally, ERs only address immediate issues. The patient will still have to be referred to specialists later during regular office hours for longer-term care. An ER referral, unlike an Independent Urgent Care referral, however, is very expensive.

A recent article in the WSJ [4] demonstrated that costs of the typical hospital network referrals were several times higher than the same costs outside of a hospital network. The author cited the practice of referring inside a hospital network as a principal reason for high health care costs. The equivalent service from the same physician outside of a hospital is several times lower.

Fortunately, independent Urgent Care clinics, like AFC Urgent Richmond, have no obligation or incentive to make expensive referrals to any hospital network. We work with independent orthopedic, podiatric, ophthalmological, and other specialists outside of expensive hospital networks. In many cases, they are the same physicians but working in a different location.

Independent Urgent Care clinics, therefore, are much better alternatives for relatively minor accidents because of the expense and time or ERs or even hospital-based Urgent Care Clinics. We are also great places to stabilize the trauma fore even complex injuries, such as broken-collar bone or orthopedic soft tissue damage that may require specialist care. We stabilize the injury, X-ray to diagnose, and if the injury requires, we refer to a specialist. You see them when they are available without worrying about further damaging your injury. In most cases, we are in direct contact with the specialist to get a better read on follow up care needed. While ER or hospital-affiliated UCs, can serve the same purpose, they have the same limitations concerning specialized care, but our referral is much less expensive.

Picture of AFC Richmond owners, Sol and Adriano Pangelinan

About the Authors, owners of AFC Urgent Care Richmond
As long-time residents of the Richmond and Sugar Land area, Sol and Adriano have been active members of the community. They have been owners of AFC Urgent Care Richmond for the past several years. Sol is the operations manager for the clinic and has Medical Degree from the University of Caraboboa and was a resident Ophthalmological Surgeon in her native country, Venezuela. Adriano is the center's general manager, leveraging several decades of technical, commercial and marketing experience in Oil & Gas. They participate in and sponsor local non-profit organizations such as Boy Scouts of America and Shape Up Fort Bend.

  1. AFC Urgent Care Richmond is a proud sponsor of Fort Bend Mountain Bike Association and other healthy family oriented outdoor non-profit organizations.
  2. AFC Urgent Care Richmond conveniently located at 18110 West Airport BLVD, Richmond, TX is happy serves Aliana, Harvest Green, Pecan Grove in Richmond and Telfair and New Territory Communities in nearby Sugar Land.
  4. “The Hidden System That Explain How Your Doctor Makes Referrals”. Anna Wilde Mathew and Melanie Eans, December 27, 2018.

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