Medical Emergency or Not?

Emergency Room charges are among the most expensive of all medical expenses—for you and for the Fund. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) estimates that an average emergency room (ER) visit costs $1,318, compared to about $155 for an urgent care center visit.

Depending on your condition, the ER may be the best (and only) option—but if your condition isn’t life threatening, consider alternatives, such as LiveHealth Online, an urgent care center or your physician’s office.

Urgent care centers provide fast medical treatment outside of an emergency room setting. They are set up to care for injuries and illnesses that aren’t life-threatening, but do need attention within a few hours or on the same day. Unlike your doctor’s office, you don’t need an appointment. An urgent care center visit is much less expensive than an ER visit, and you’ll probably have a shorter wait time.

LiveHealth Online, administered by Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, provides a live, “face-to-face” computer consultation with a doctor 24/7 for minor health concerns. It uses the same technology as video chat services, such as FaceTime and Skype, but is delivered using secure, HIPAA-compliant technology so your virtual office visits are completely confidential. Consultations generally last 10 minutes and include an evaluation, discussion of your issue and, if needed, prescriptions.

However, should you need emergency care it’s covered at PPO and non-PPO network hospitals at 80%, after you meet the deductible.