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If it were a nation unto itself, the U.S. healthcare system would have the fifth-largest economy in the world. As it is, it accounts for more than 17% of the U.S. economy—with spending in the emergency room being the fastest-growing portion, according to a new article in the Journal of the American Medical Association. U.S. Spending on Personal Health Care and Public Health, 1996-2013, by Joseph L. Dieleman, PhD, points out that Americans spend more and more (6.4% more annually, to be exact) on trips to the emergency room every year. That growth rate eclipses the rate of the growing cost of retail pharmaceutical products, which came in second at 5.6%. The cost of ambulatory care (which included urgent care for purposes of categorization) was not even listed among the top growth rates. Interestingly, low back pain and neck pain—two complaints well within an urgent care clinician’s expertise to assess—were responsible for the highest growth in spending among presenting complaints over the 18-year study period.

JAMA Article Adds Fuel to ED vs Urgent Care Cost Comparison
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