Should you go to the ER? Urgent Care? Pinon Family Practice?

Local Father furious about huge bill for 1 minute ER visit - Fox31

Don't allow this to happen to you! As a patient and consumer, please do your research and take our advice!

Surely you’ve noticed the satellite ER and Urgent Care clinics going up everywhere. Those are not hospitals! There is a reason these local hospitals are doing this….money, money, money - just like the song! The hospitals Centura, HCA (HealthOne), SCL and UC Health are making a fortune from trusting consumers and those who want immediate access without understanding the repercussions. Hospital ER and Urgent Care visits are one of the leading causes of the increase to health insurance premiums and “redirected” expenses to patients through deductible and coinsurance. The insurance carriers are not going to simply assume these absurd hospital expenses, they will trickle it down and we experiencing it first hand as patients! Unfortunately, this will not change until we increase awareness and collectively take a stand. Your providers and the staff at Pinon Family Practice are all also patients, just like.

At Pinon Family Practice we have increased our provider team to allow for more same day appointments and we extended our days to see established patients until 7 pm, Monday thru Thursday for acute problems. We’ve done this to help our patient community with not only continuity in care but to increase access and cost efficiency. We have a provider on-call at all times that the office is closed - nights, weekends and holidays. Our on-call provider can help to direct you to the appropriate place (ER or Urgent Care) and/or give you clinical advice and help you determine whether an issue can wait until the clinic reopens. We know that by making these simple changes, redirecting and educating our patient community, we are helping to making a difference.

The attached image is something we make available to every patient, at every appointment and has been on our website for 2+ years. This details the large majority of concerns we are able to help with in our office on a daily basis - and with a provider who knows you, knows your story, likely knows your family and has access to your full medical record and medical history. While our goal is to help keep you out of the ER/Urgent Care, we do realize there are going to be times when you have no choice, we just hope to help you make an informed decision of where you go.

We STRONGLY suggest that if you do in fact need to be seen at an Emergency Room that you go to the MAIN hospital campus and not a satellite ER clinic (aka: extended ER). Extended ER’s do not have specialty care, have limited imaging ability, they cannot admit you if necessary AND the cost is the same as that of a main campus. In the event that the extended ER cannot treat you, they will refer you to a main campus by medical transport (ambulance) and subsequently, they will bill for the ER visits based on total time spent at the two facilities (unlike a PCP or outpatient, non-hospital associated clinic). Don’t forget that medical transport, they will bill for that too, among many other things!

Similarly, the same goes for the hospital owned Urgent Care clinics - sometimes advertised as both ER and Urgent Care, but you will pay the same regardless. They are owned by a hospital and you will be charged at the higher facility rate vs. an outpatient rate. Imaging is also more expensive when done at a hospital owned facility. That being said, Urgent Care facilities NOT associated to a hospital are much less expensive but not quite that of your primary care providers outpatient office. While you might have a higher copay (most often 3 times more) than your primary care provider, these independent Urgent Care clinics do not bill as a “facility” and therefore are more affordable when necessary.

We’d love your feedback, your experience, your story as we continue to help our patients navigate thru this process. We are currently in the process of comparing prices of each individual hospital system so we can better direct our patients to cost conscious hospital systems - our preliminary data is quite alarming! Stay tuned!

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Amy Patterson