Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Apr 26, 2022

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The cost of urgent care visits for patients without insurance varies from place to place and is dependent on what kind of treatment or services you require. However, if you have a non-fatal injury or illness, the urgent care clinics or walk-in clinics costs are a much cheaper alternative than going to the emergency room.

If you are not in immediate danger of death, a trip to the urgent care clinic will not just be cheaper, it will also probably be a much quicker one. However, having some form of health insurance coverage is still your best option.

How much does an urgent care visit cost without insurance?

How much you pay at an urgent care facility will depend on the reason for your visit and what kind of medical treatment you need. Even though it’s cheaper, if you’re in serious condition and have multiple reasons to take a trip to urgent care, you may still want to know what your costs will look like first.

The average cost for standard medical issues like sinusitis, an ear infection, or a urinary tract infection is around $100. However, this will vary based on a variety of factors, including where you live. If you’re living in a city where everything is expensive, like New York City or Los Angeles, you can expect prices will be higher at urgent care centres.

Regardless of what you pay to go to an urgent care centre, it will almost certainly be less expensive than an emergency room visit as an uninsured patient.

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How can I afford an emergency room or urgent care visit without insurance?

Emergency rooms have become incredibly overcrowded, primarily because of people going for reasons that are definitely not emergencies. Car accidents, heart attacks, falling down or upstairs, being bitten by a rabid dog—those are definitely emergencies.

If you are visiting for a sore throat, flu symptoms, or another non-life threatening illness, you should expect your urgent care costs to be somewhere between $50 and $100. If you need tests or X-rays, that will cost you a bit more.

If you are worried about how much is urgent care without insurance for a one time visit, one option is to go to a clinic with cash. Sometimes, if you can pay fees upfront, you can get a discount on your bill. They are often happy to do this because they know you will be one less patient they could potentially have to hunt down for payment.

Urgent care medical bills without insurance can be a burden on patients and thus some clinics and doctor’s offices alike occasionally have free samples of medications, but you may very well have to pay for your own prescriptions. However, some urgent care facilities—particularly those that are specifically focused on the uninsured – may have their own pharmacies where you can purchase some medications at good discounts.

If you need medical care and you can’t afford to pay the entire cost up-front, some urgent care centres will offer a payment plan. Make sure to ask about this if you need to, rather than forego testing or medical attention that you may desperately need.

What are my urgent care options?

So how much does urgent care cost without insurance? Know that there are always many different local options for quality health care even if you do not have health insurance. There are often free community clinics that provide urgent care with nor insurance as well as primary, general care.

If you think you won’t be eligible for health care because you make too much money to get aid and too little to pay for quality health care, think again. Most of these clinics offer affordable care. They charge based on sliding scales, so that people pay what they are able to afford to get the care they need.

Your local Planned Parenthood, for example, would be a far better place to go if you were a female with a UTI than the emergency room. You will be seen sooner, have a quicker appointment, and will most likely be charged based on what you can pay. They may ask for a pay stub, so prepare for that situation just in case.

While urgent care clinics are predominately used for occasional care for a specific problem, some people are sometimes able to make their urgent care clinic their regular doctor. However, it’s not recommended that you go to an urgent care centre for preventive care. The level of care is not the same, and doctors may rotate in and out of these clinics more often.

When should I choose an emergency room over urgent care?

The main thing to remember is that it is always going to be in your best interest to use emergency rooms for true emergencies only, or for serious problems that cannot wait until more appropriate healthcare opens in the morning. The overcrowding and long waits at emergency rooms have become a problem throughout the country. For example, if you think you may have a respiratory infection because you’re having trouble breathing, you can go to urgent care. If you’re having trouble breathing because you’re going into anaphylactic shock, that’s an emergency.

If you think you may be coming down with something serious and are afraid of what it may cost to go to the emergency room, go to the urgent care clinic as soon as you can. The cost of urgent care without insurance will be much cheaper and also likely quicker. Because most people who use the emergency room for illnesses usually wait until the illness has really progressed, they are far sicker and require more care that is more expensive.

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What’s the bottom line?

If you are considering urgent care because you don’t believe that you can afford health insurance, you owe it to your self to look into what you can afford. There are many kinds of affordable health care options, and it does not have to be impossible for you to apply for a health insurance policy that fits within your budget.

You also have to consider your personal health. If you’re having a serious medical emergency, such as an allergic reaction, go to the emergency room. Time is of the essence in those situations. Should your medical condition be a little less severe, consider going to urgent care instead, to cut back on overcrowding in the ER.

It’s also worth checking out the healthcare.gov website to see if you can get a subsidized insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Many low-income people qualify. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t wait until you need emergency care before going to the doctor. Take proper care of yourself no matter the situation.