When Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, issued a call for recommendations on how to lower the cost of healthcare in the United States, the Urgent Care Association put together a response packed with data on the relative merits of urgent care, both in terms of the quality of care and the dramatically lower cost compared with freestanding emergency rooms and hospital-based EDs. UCA suggested that a lack of price transparency and inadequate Medicaid rates, especially in rural and under-served areas, are serious barriers to urgent care access for too many American. The letter cites several references to offer context for the cost savings and quality care available through urgent care. One that may be particularly persuasive is a 2017 Annals of Emergency Medicine that revealed 15 of the 20 most common diagnoses treated at freestanding emergency departments, and 12 of the most common hospital-based EDs diagnoses, were also among the top 20 for urgent care centers—the major difference being that the cost of visits related to those diagnoses were on average almost 10 times higher at freestanding and hospital-based EDs vs urgent care centers.
Senate Committee Chair Asks for Ideas to Lower Health Costs, and UCA Obliges