Each time a patient enters the emergency department with a condition that can be treated in a primary care setting, it comes at an average cost of $2,032 to the healthcare system, according to an analysis published by UnitedHealth Group.
UnitedHealth said the average cost is 12 times higher than visiting a physician office, which costs an average of $167. It also said the $2,032 price tag is 10 times higher than an urgent care visit, which costs an average of $193.
"In other words, visiting either a physician's office or an urgent care facility instead of a hospital would save an average of more than $1,800 per visit — creating a $32 billion annual savings opportunity systemwide," according to UnitedHealth.
UnitedHealth said the 10 most common conditions treated in the ED that could be treated in a primary care setting are bronchitis, cough, dizziness, flu, headache, low back pain, nausea, sore throat, strep throat and upper respiratory infection. UnitedHealth projects 18 million of the 27 million ED visits made by privately insured Americans each year are avoidable.
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