Believe it or not, the exact same healthcare treatment can easily cost ten times as much depending on the location. The most expensive healthcare treatments are those that are out-of-network and in an emergency setting. The healthcare system favors those who plan out preventative treatment and visit locations that are specifically designated as cost effective for their treatment.
Emergency care is expensive. Avoid emergency rooms at (nearly) all costs. Note that nearly 40% of emergency room visits are actually better suited for primary care providers (the much less expensive doctors and treatment.)
I highly recommend Urgent Care Centers as an alternative to emergency rooms when you have a choice. I understand that you do not always have a choice. Urgent care centers are equipped to handle many of the same mild to moderate treatments as an emergency room, but at a reduced rate. The wait times are generally shorter as well.
Also, I recommend Retail Clinics for quick check ups that just cannot wait, but are not an emergency. These are the small clinics you will see in a Walgreens or CVS where you can generally walk right in. The expanded hours make Retail Clinics an attractive option. Prices are predictable and the clinics address the most common illnesses. Retail clinics are a great option for convenient vaccinations. If you are out-of-network or paying out of pocket, these are great options.
Finally, I want to stress the importance of utilizing any employer-based classes or services. There may be a “worksite clinic” that has greatly reduced rates for certain treatments for employees. Also, wellness programs are programs offered by your employer to encourage healthy behavior. Some wellness programs provide financial incentives for meeting certain goals. If you are not sure if your employer provides this, it will not hurt to ask. Nothing beats being paid for being healthy!
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