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Although the names are similar, there is a difference between an emergency walk in clinic and the emergency room at the hospital. An emergency walk in clinic is a facility that does not have 24-hour-care, or a number of the other amenities of an ER, yet is perfectly equipped to address a very broad range of issues. With family care physicians on staff, urgent care available, and short wait times, there are many ways that a neighborhood health clinic is better suited to provide for visitors’ needs than the emergency room would be. Yet out of the 129.8 million people who go to the emergency room annually, physicians have deduced that many of them could just as easily have been seen at an urgent care center.

The walk in health clinic has become a more popular staple of American medical practice in recent years, with two opening every day, and an expected 15,000 urgent care centers in 2019. Part of their appeal is that a medical walk in clinic is often less expensive than a visit to the emergency room; on average, patients would save $784 and three hours by going to the emergency walk in clinic instead, a difference between life and death in certain cases. The average insurance copay is less, too? at an emergency room, it is between $50 and $150, whereas in the case of a community health clinic, it is closer to $35 to $50.

The only disadvantage to a health clinic is that the hours are less all-inclusive. Although 85% of such clinics are open seven days a week, many close at 7pm, making them less than ideal for treating a late-night accident. But health clinics are great for day to day services, like STD testing, in addition to serious medical visits. Don’t waste time and money by visiting an emergency room if you can be helped by a walk in clinic in your local area.