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Visits to urgent care resulted in lower costs and a lower rate of return visits compared with visits to the emergency room among younger Medicaid patients with low acuity symptoms, as reflected in a new study in published in Pediatrics. Researchers at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, MO and Children’s Hospital Association in Overland Park, KS looked at 5.9 million ED and urgent care visits by Medicaid-covered children between 2010 and 2012. Data show a higher rate of return and follow-up with a primary care physician within one week for those who presented to the ED. Not surprisingly, costs followed suit. The authors estimate that if all patients whose symptoms were appropriate for the urgent care setting actually went to an urgent care center instead of the ED, Medicaid could save more than $50 million annually.

Urgent Care Costs Less than the ED for Pediatric Medicaid Patients