ER or UC: How Baby Boomers Can Choose the Right Care at the Right Time

By: Dr. Chad Masters, MD, MBA, MedExpress

From telemedicine to increased opportunities for comparison shopping among health plans, healthcare consumers are enjoying a growing array of options when it comes to choosing the right care. Urgent care is also expanding in popularity, providing Americans with more alternatives to traditional services like the emergency room. Baby boomers 50 years and older have contributed to the rise, as the market has evolved to meet the changing health care needs of this demographic.


With more health care options today than ever before, choosing the right care at the right time is a key component to addressing health care concerns that come with aging. Most people are aware that life-threatening conditions such as pressure or tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, severe abdominal pain, pain radiating down the left arm without a history of trauma or injury, severe burns, and paralysis are all health conditions that should be treated immediately at the ER. However, it becomes less clear when dealing with non-emergent concerns such as broken bones, sprains, minor urinary issues, and certain respiratory illnesses.


Understanding the options available and when to use them will help boomers make the most informed decision. This ultimately saves time and money, while ensuring patients receive the most appropriate level of care.


When determining the best route for care, remember: condition, convenience, cost. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What is your condition?

Is your condition life-threatening? If so, the ER is absolutely the most appropriate place to go. For non-life-threatening health issues such as fevers, flu, earaches, pink eye, urinary tract infections, and colds, patients can be treated either at a walk-in urgent care center or a primary care physician’s (PCP) office. Most walk-in centers can also perform X-rays, minor surgery, stitches, and provide treatment for broken bones and sprains.

  • Do you need timely care?

If you are unable to perform your normal daily tasks because your symptoms are getting in the way, an urgent care center has extended hours and a full medical team to address those inconveniences so you can get on your way to feeling better sooner.

  • What is the cost?

A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study found that ER bills for a sprained ankle are an average charge of $1,498, while the Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA) Benchmarking Survey has reported that urgent care services cost an average of $155. Urgent care centers, such as MedExpress, accept most major insurances to help patients avoid out-of-network costs. For those without insurance, affordable pricing is available.


Condition, convenience, and cost are three factors to keep in mind when deciding upon the best place to receive quality care. Primary care physicians, ERs, and urgent care centers all have an important role in the health care system. The more informed patients are about their health care options, the better their experience – both in treatment and in cost.

About the Author

Dr. Chad Masters, MD, MBA, is a Regional Medical Director for MedExpress, a national leader in providing walk-in health care. He has held numerous medical leadership roles throughout his career and has been a contributor to the medical education field as both an adjunct professor for Nova Southeastern University and assistant professor at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. He is an expert in health and wellness programs and medical quality.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a physician. It is information that is generally available. Each person has unique medical needs based on several factors including age, genetics, body type and build, medications, exposures to illness and medical history, to name a few. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition that you are experiencing. If you are suffering from a non-emergent medical situation, it is suggested that you visit the nearest MedExpress center or your family physician. If you believe you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911.

Urgent Care MSO, LLC (“MSO”) is a management services company which provides management services on behalf of Private Office Practices operating urgent and walk-in care centers under the name “MedExpress”. The Private Office Practice has complete authority with regards to all medical decision-making and patient care. MSO shall, in no way, determine or set the methods, standards, or conduct of the practice of medicine or healthcare provided at, by, or through any Private Office Practice, or by any of its professionals. MSO provides consultation services and offers recommendations through its Chief Medical Officer for the Private Office Practice to consider, reject, revise and/or adopt as it deems fit.



Tags: , , , , , ,

Category: Wellness