How Much Does Urgent Care Really Cost?

By Terez Malka, MD
Medically reviewed
December 13, 2021

Even if you consider yourself a generally healthy person, 2020 and 2021 have shown us that anyone can have an unexpected need for serious medical care.

That’s what makes urgent care so urgent—you never know when you’ll need it.

And for most Americans, it also feels like you’ll never know what it costs when you do need it.

Understanding medical pricing in the United States is no easy task, and leaves people worried about the costs: Two-thirds of Americans worry about affording “unexpected” medical bills, and lots of people get them—almost 20 percent of visits to the emergency room result in at least one “surprise” medical bill.

Is there any way to know in advance what your urgent care costs will be?

While it’s impossible to predict in every situation, there are some general benchmarks to help you know what to expect going in. 

How Much Does Urgent Care Cost with Insurance?

Around 92% of Americans have some form of public or private health insurance coverage, according to a 2019 report from the United States Census Bureau.

Having health insurance can significantly reduce your out-of-pocket medical costs, especially in sudden and unavoidable situations. 

According to Debt.org, urgent care visits are generally less expensive than emergency room visits and are therefore preferable for non-life threatening situations.

If you have a health insurance provider, you’ll typically only pay a copay for urgent care, and your insurance company will cover the rest of the cost.

The average copay for an urgent care visit ranges from $75-100. For a comparable emergency room visit, the average copay may be more than double that amount.

Check with your insurance company to see what your copay is and whether you’ll be responsible for meeting a deductible (a certain amount you’ll owe before your health insurance coverage kicks in).

How Much Does Urgent Care Cost without Insurance?

If you’re uninsured, urgent care visits will usually cost more.

There are, however, urgent care facilities set up specifically for those who are uninsured to help keep costs down.

At K Health, we offer the same low rate for our virtual urgent care to everyone, regardless of medical condition or insurance status.

Get immediate care for $23 per visit or $19/month for unlimited visits.

If you need to go to an in-person facility, do a quick internet search to see if there are low-cost urgent care centers near you. 

Here are some cost estimates for urgent care services without insurance.

Keep in mind that these are just examples, and the cost can vary greatly depending on where you live and what services you need.

Urgent Care Service

X-ray

STD test

Stitches

Physical exam

Cyst removal

COVID-19 test

Earache treatment

Ear wax removal

EKG

Pregnancy test

Strep throat test

UTI

Cost Estimate for Uninsured Patients

$230

$245

$200

$150

$180

$150

$110

$60

$50

$20

$111

$112

Sources: Debt.org, Mira (X-ray & Stitches), StatCare (STD Testing & Other), University of Rochester Medicine

Urgent Care vs. Provider Visit Cost

Costs vary depending on the provider and services needed.

Many primary care providers require advance notice before seeing patients, so they may not be ideal for conditions that require immediate care (say, in the case of a sprained ankle or painful UTI).

The good thing about scheduling a primary care visit is that you can often ask for a cost estimate in advance of your visit—though there may be additional charges for tests or services your provider suggests during the visit. 

Feel empowered to ask about the cost of tests, medicines, and procedures before you say ‘yes’ to an x-ray, bloodwork, or any other service your provider recommends.

Even if your healthcare provider can’t give you an exact answer at the moment, they can point you in the right direction to get some clarity on your bill. 

Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room Cost

Emergency rooms save lives, but they don’t save money—they’re notoriously expensive.

While you should always visit the ER if you’re concerned about a life-threatening condition, there are times when urgent care is a more affordable and time-efficient option.

Debt.org estimates that ER visit services are usually at least triple the cost of what you’d pay for similar services at urgent care.

For example, treatment for a UTI in an emergency room costs an average of $665, compared to $112 at urgent care.

If you or a loved one is not in immediate medical danger, consider a visit to urgent care for your health needs.

With the recent boom in telemedicine options, you’re not limited to in-person clinics.

Virtual providers like our team here at K Health offer 24/7 access to licensed providers, all from the comfort of your home.

We’ll discuss your symptoms and provide suggestions about what to do next—a prescription treatment regimen, a visit to a specialist for further care, or other treatment options.

We can also help you determine if an in-person visit to an urgent care or ER is needed.

Other Cost Considerations

It’s worth noting several other factors that can play into your overall medical bill:

Office visit costs

Most doctor’s offices charge a flat rate visit fee, regardless of the reason for the visit.

This means that in addition to the cost of lab tests, screenings, vaccinations, and prescriptions, you’re paying a fee simply for visiting the provider.

Urgent care centers and emergency rooms tend to charge visit fees, too. 

If you have health insurance, the visit cost is usually covered as part of your plan, meaning you’ll only pay the copay.

But if you’re uninsured, you’ll be responsible for the full cost of the services, plus the visit fee. 

To get clarity on visit fees, you can call the urgent care center beforehand to ask if they can share any visit fees or other hidden costs—though many urgent cares and ERs are not able to predict cost by the phone, since it can vary so much depending on your medical condition and insurance status.

Location

Medical bills are no different than groceries or gas prices—living expenses are dependent on where you live.

Healthcare costs vary greatly from city to city and can fluctuate as the economy changes.

In general, those living in smaller cities, suburbs, or rural areas will pay less for urgent care, but they may have to travel further to access a clinic. 

Castlight Health’s 2020 report on the cost of COVID-19 care included a breakdown of average urgent care costs in major U.S. cities.

Here’s what they found.

Note: These numbers represent visit costs only, not including labs, screening, and service fees.

City

San Francisco, CA

New York, NY

Los Angeles, CA

Seattle, WA

Boston, MA

Miami, FL

Washington, DC

Chicago, IL

Dallas, TX

Cleveland, OH

Houston, TX

Average Urgent Care Visit Cost

$242.11

$352.40

$226.92

$182.05

$247.46

$483.16

$175.22

$188.49

$312.85

$130.57

$190.64

Type of visit

You may end up with additional medical costs if you require testing.

For example, blood work can cost $200 or more.

Always ask questions when your provider suggests additional services.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t trust your provider—it’s very likely the services they recommend are necessary—but it can be helpful to understand the reasons behind the ordered tests and the possible costs in advance.

How to Avoid Paying High Costs

Avoid surprise fees and keep your costs lower with these simple suggestions

Look up rates before visiting

Compare facilities in your area to see if they share rates on their website so you’ll be better prepared to understand your costs before you visit.

Transparency is important in healthcare (it’s what we’re all about here at K Health), so you’ll know you’re in good hands if a provider shares their costs with you outright.

Call beforehand

If you call the urgent care clinic before visiting, they should be able to provide a general estimate of costs, including the visit fee and a breakdown of service fees.

Ask if it’s possible to be put on a low-interest payment plan so you can pay off the bill over time.

Consider telehealth

Depending on your medical needs, telehealth may be your most affordable and convenient option.

K Health offers diagnosis and treatment for everything from allergies to urinary tract infections to sinusitis, and we’re available to you on a same-day basis, just like urgent care. Visit our website for a better idea of what we treat. 

K Health visits cost just $23 each time or $19/month for ongoing care, and our pricing doesn’t change depending on your health insurance status.

It doesn’t get much better than that. Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app?

Download K to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and if needed text with a doctor in minutes.

K Health’s AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data.

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Terez Malka, MD

Dr. Terez Malka is a board-certified pediatrician and emergency medicine physician.