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April 1, 2019

What does an ER or urgent care visit truly cost?

by admin in Blogs

When examining what an ER or urgent care visit costs an employer whose worker has been injured, it is too easy to focus on the actual bill. The true cost to the business is far greater. 

Let’s start with the ER. Nationwide the average emergency department bill is around $1,750, when all ancillary charges are included. Not only is this a large bill to pay, it is often unnecessary. According to an extensive Truven study of 6.5 million ER visits, 66% were determined to be avoidable or unnecessary. Our experience has shown as many as 81% of ER visits for work-related injuries are avoidable or unnecessary. 

You might think a visit to urgent care would be cheaper, and at $230 on average it is; however, a staggering increase in physical therapy and chiropractic referrals are driving up costs.

In our experience, 44% of cases headed to urgent care for treatment are resolved by MedCall physicians via a virtual encounter. Only 2% to 4% of the cases require medication and 5% to 7% result in lost time. Urgent care cases are largely made up of soft tissue sprains and strains that routinely heal with time and minor treatment, however industry averages show 34% to 39% of these cases are referred to physical therapy, which is an increase of 65% to 75% over the last few years. The actual cost of an urgent care visit with a workplace injury that includes referred visits and follow-up visits, can top $950.

Beyond the cost to a business when a worker gets hurt, there are losses of time, transportation and productivity. The bottom line takes a substantial impact on other employees: those distracted by the event, those who must cover for their hurt coworker and others tasked with the administrative cost of reporting and filing the claim. An injured worker can hurt a business but having employees self-report directly to an ER doctor via MedCall can reduce the sting. By eliminating unnecessary ER visits, MedCall saves time, money and waste.

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