The Role of Urgent Care in Today's Healthcare System

Urgent care plays an important role in the healthcare industry. Our centers provide convenient, affordable and high-quality care for a variety of common illnesses and injuries – from sprains and broken bones to strep throat and sinus infections. Urgent care centers exist so patients can get help when they need it – without excessive waiting or overpaying.

Some recent stories have questioned the role of urgent care centers versus emergency departments, and UCA wants to outline our view on the role of urgent care in today’s healthcare system.

As representatives of our industry, UCA is aware that it’s our responsibility to educate patients about when urgent care is appropriate, and we take this responsibility very seriously.

  • Urgent care absolutely is not a substitute for emergency care. Urgent care centers are equipped to handle immediate but not life-threatening situations, freeing emergency rooms’ money and resources that can be better spent on true emergency situations.
  • The urgent care industry is dedicated to educating patients and other healthcare professionals about the benefits of urgent care, and when it’s an appropriate option. We actively work to spread the message that, while urgent care has many benefits, it’s not the best choice in all situations – and it certainly is not a substitute for emergency care.
  • Urgent care provides high-quality care by qualified, caring healthcare professionals. When patients visit an urgent care center, they can be confident in the care they are receiving. Ninety-four percent of centers have at least one full-time employed physician on staff, and 90 percent of physicians practicing in urgent care are board certified in a primary specialty. Urgent care provides access to a high level of care and access to resources and treatments found at primary care physicians’ offices and hospitals. UCA encourages the highest possible standards of care, and our members are committed to ongoing education and continual improvement.
  • Urgent care takes its responsibility to treat patients very seriously. Many urgent care centers accept all patients, from those using private insurance to those leveraging Medicare and Medicaid, and a variety of insurance options feature lower patient co-pays for urgent care service than treatment in the emergency room. Urgent care centers also provide clear information in advance about pricing structure to patients with no insurance – making urgent care the more affordable and convenient choice for immediate but non-emergency illness and injuries. 

UCA places great importance on collaborating with emergency departments, primary care physicians and other healthcare specialties so we all can work together to provide the best possible patient care. We are proud of the role urgent care plays in the continuum of care. Health care works best – and most efficiently – when the seriousness of a patient’s condition matches capabilities of the provider or facility the patient uses.

We are dedicated to educating patients about when urgent care and emergency rooms are appropriate so they can make well-informed decisions that are best for them – which makes health care work best.