Urgent care centers have become more popular over the past two decades due to pressure on primary care systems. These clinics offer quick turnaround on on-demand medical services that aren’t covered by traditional health insurance plans or can’t wait for a primary care appointment. They also can cost less than a trip to the emergency room.
Most urgent care physicians are paid a base salary plus yearly bonus payments. However, these vary by location among other factors. Physicians employed in Texas earn $169,000 a year on average, while professionals based in California are paid around $188,000 annually, and those employed in New York make $211,000 annually, according to salary data provided by Indeed.
Health care coverage varies among states, but most urgent care centers are in network for most major health insurance plans. If you’re insured, the health insurance company typically picks up a portion of the cost (called coinsurance) until you reach your annual out-of-pocket maximum. It’s a good idea to check online whether the urgent care center you’re planning to visit is in your insurance’s provider network. Otherwise, you may be subject to extra charges like balance billing, where the health care facility bills you for the difference between the amount your insurer pays and the provider’s charge.
For patients without health insurance, urgent care clinics are a lot cheaper than visiting the emergency room. They generally have shorter wait times, too. However, if you’re suffering from a life-threatening illness or injury, the emergency room is still your best option.