By Jeremy Gabrysch, MD
Remedy: Better than the ER
When I’m not cruising around Austin in the Mini Cooper delivering healthcare to my patients’ doors, I’m usually treating people in the emergency room. This is rewarding work, but also serves as a reminder of why we started Remedy Urgent Care. In my observation, the majority of the patients that I see at the emergency room are not suffering from an emergency. (Studies show that as many as 75% of people who present to the ER actually have non-emergent conditions). This means that they’re taking the time to drive to the ER and expose themselves to unnecessary potential infection in the waiting room and paying more than they would for an urgent care visit.
Choosing Urgent Care Over the ER
In the past week alone, I saw three patients at the ER who would have been much better off with urgent care.
Case Study #1: Stitches
First, there was the 9-year-old who cut his hand on some broken glass. He needed some stitches – three to be exact. The mom was really concerned because she knew it was going to be expensive. This patient had an idea that ER care is more expensive than urgent care, but she didn’t know the half of it. She has Cigna and her insurance will be billed $1000+ for the visit. It comes in the form of two bills. One is the facility fee for the ER itself. The ER can literally charge whatever they want for this, and some charge over $1000. The other is the bill for the doctor’s services which will be another $500. Her insurance might pay for part of it, but then she’ll get a bill for the rest.
Remedy could’ve done this for less than $300 total. Since she had Cigna, and we are in-network with Cigna, she might have only had to pay her $50 copay.
Case Study #2: Bladder Infection
The next patient was an 18-year-old cheerleader with burning when she urinated. She had a bladder infection. She got a urine test, a diagnosis and a prescription for antibiotics. Again, an ER bill will be at least $500. The testing, diagnosis and prescription would have cost less than $200 with Remedy – and we could’ve done it in the comfort of her own home.
Case Study #3: Abdominal Pain
The last patient I saw that broke my heart was a 35-year-old woman with some abdominal pain. She had been traveling and thought she might have eaten some bad oysters. I agreed with her. My exam found that she had no appendicitis or any other emergency. I didn’t do a whole lot beyond reassure her that she would be okay, but she made one of the worst mistakes you can make. She went to the emergency room for a non-emergency. Her bill will likely be greater than $500, just for my medical opinion and 30 minutes of my time.
Emergency rooms justify their exorbitant expenses by saying that they have all the facilities and amenities that you might need if you’re having a real emergency. But the reality is (and studies prove this out), at least 75% of the people going to the ER don’t have emergency conditions. To be fair, I have taken care of plenty of strokes and heart attacks in my career and if you’re having chest pain or suddenly lose the ability to move your arm and your leg, Remedy is not for you. You need to go to the ER. However, if you need a couple of stitches or feel a little under-the-weather, spare yourself a drive and the bill.
I want people to get the care they need, but not pay a fortune. They don’t need to. Our Remedy providers can treat the vast majority of the conditions I see in the emergency room with the same level of care and expertise for a much lower price. It’s not discount service, it’s a fair service, delivered by providers who believe that medicine is a calling and that it’s our responsibility to help our community.
So spread the word! Let your friends and family know that Remedy is here to make them feel better and save them from exorbitant healthcare costs.