While urgent care centers have significantly lower costs than a visit to the emergency room, the copay at an urgent care facility is still higher than that of a doctor’s office. There are several factors that lead to higher copay costs. Traditional doctors’ offices have lower overhead costs than urgent care clinics. Since appointment times are not necessary at urgent care facilities, they must always plan for the unexpected. The lack of appointment schedules means that the clinic must always be properly staffed to treat whatever injuries and illness come through their doors. This may also lead to longer wait times as urgent care facilities are a "First Come First Service" basis.
Urgent care facilities are equipped to treat a range of emergency needs and offer many diagnostic services. These services are not usually performed at a traditional doctor’s office and come at a premium. When insurance companies set copay amounts, they are usually based on the estimated cost of a visit. Since the care you need is on an urgent basis, and will require more diagnostic services, the cost is higher and will result in a higher copay. Normally an urgent care copay range, on average, from $50-$100 and a doctor's office visit is $25-$60.
While the cost of an urgent care clinic may be higher than a regular doctor's office visit, it is still less expensive than a visit to your local emergency room. An ER is staffed with doctors, nurses, specialists and surgeons 24 hours a day. Since there is a high cost of overhead at emergency rooms, the visit is rather expensive.
Depending on the medical situation you are facing, it is important to select the appropriate facility for treatment. Life-threatening illnesses and injuries should be treated at an ER. If you need medical treatment after regular business hours or for immediate attention, an urgent care facility will usually be able to treat you at a lower cost than emergency room. The cost of the visit is usually dependent upon the condition you are facing.