What Separates Urgent Care And The ER? Your Bill. : Planet Money Urgent care centers look a lot like emergency rooms. But they're a lot cheaper, both for patients and operators.
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What Separates Urgent Care And The ER? Your Bill.

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What Separates Urgent Care And The ER? Your Bill.

What Separates Urgent Care And The ER? Your Bill.

What Separates Urgent Care And The ER? Your Bill.

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/762100125/762103671" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images
Members of clinical staff work at computers in the Accident and Emergency department of the 'Royal Albert Edward Infirmary' on April 2, 2015. (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images

Urgent care centers have been around since the 1970's. Recently, however, they've been popping up all over.

But, while urgent care centers can look a lot like emergency rooms, with some similar staff and equipment, they're a lot cheaper, both for the patients that visit them and the organizations that operate them. The average emergency room bill is about 1,300% higher than one from urgent care. So consumers are opting to use them, more and more, as healthcare costs rise. Today on the Indicator, we look at the mystery of urgent care: how they manage to be so much cheaper than the ER.

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