Healthcare crisis fuels growth of urgent cares; patients turn to urgent care as the new family doc
For millions of Americans, the new family doctor is the physician on duty at their local urgent care center. People are turning to urgent care for the prescription for their healthcare problems for many reasons: a crisis in the ER, a growing number of uninsured, a dire shortage of primary care physicians and long wait times to get care when they're sick. Nationally, 700 – 800 new urgent care centers open up every year.* Each week, 3 million patients visits an urgent care. ** Health care experts predict urgent care growth will continue to grow at the rate of 6 percent per year.
"There is a shortage of physicians entering primary care specialties which has led to an inability to seek quality, low cost healthcare on demand. Urgent care centers have become for many, the consumer driven solution to our healthcare crisis." says Dr. John Shufeldt, CEO of Doctors Express, the first ever nationally franchised urgent care, with 51 centers open nationwide and another 143 franchises sold. "Consumer frustration is creating more demand than ever before for urgent care because we provide affordable, convenient, accessible healthcare and offer a multitude of services all under one roof."
WHAT'S CAUSING THE URGENCY FOR URGENT CARE?
• Crisis in the ER
- At least half of all hospitals nationwide have started to charge upfront fees in the emergency room that can run several hundred dollars for a non-critical condition, such as a sore throat or cough. Hospitals have an extremely high overhead which is necessary to provide their services. Also, since they are required to treat everyone who comes to the emergency department, hospitals are forced to cost shift to help cover patients who are not able to pay.
- An ambulance is turned away every 60 seconds in this country because emergency rooms are too full to accept another patient.
- A 2010 Rand Corporation Study found that 17% of all visits to hospital emergency departments across the United States could be treated at urgent care centers, saving our country $4.4 billion dollars a year.
• Wait Times To Get Care
- The American Medical Association reports it takes an average of 28 days to get an appointment with an internist and 30 days to get an appointment with a specialist.
- The average wait in the ER is 4 hours and 5 minutes.
- In a 2010 survey, 20 percent of those polled say they waited to see a doctor six or more days when they were sick.
• Lack of Insurance
- Nearly 46 million Americans have no insurance (1/6 of the population) and 25 million more are underinsured. Many don't have a family physician and need a place to go when they're sick.
• Shortage of Primary Care Physicians
- A 2011 Department of Health and Human Services report says 66 million (1/5 of the population) are living in an area with a shortage of primary health professionals.
- The report also says by 2020, there will be 45,000 too few primary care physicians.
- In another recent survey, nearly half of all consumers say they have chosen to go without care once this past year, because of the cost.
- The cost for treatment at an urgent care usually runs ¼ of the costs at a hospital – or ½ of a visit to your primary physician. Check out these price comparisons:
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