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Is there an answer to Skyrocketing Healthcare costs?

June 27, 2016, 5:00am CDT

Do you know why your health-care premiums keep rising?
There are many factors contributing to the problem but three play a significant role:

1. Overutilization of emergency rooms for non-life-threatening conditions. It is estimated that 60 million ER patients per year could have been treated in a lower cost setting. This contributor is even more significant in Houston where there are over a 100 freestanding emergency rooms in the metropolitan area all looking very much like urgent care facilities but carrying a far greater price tag. “Many people don’t understand that they could come to an urgent care like ours for lacerations that need stitches or broken bones” notes Juliet Breeze M.D., CEO of Next Level Urgent Care. Using an emergency room for these services could cost up to 5 to 10 times as much as using an urgent care whose staff are equally trained in these procedures. When employers educate their employees on where to go for the right care, they can save hundreds of thousands of dollars for themselves and their employees. Many people have mistakenly assumed that they were in a low-cost setting and ended up paying $1000 or more for strep throat or other relatively minor health issues. Asking the right questions before receiving services is key.

2. Crisis management healthcare versus preventative healthcare. Due to rising healthcare costs and diminished convenient access to healthcare, many people with chronic diseases are not diagnosed until their disease has profoundly affected their health. When your employees use Next Level Urgent Care, they will be connected to primary care physicians when they are needed. “If a seemingly healthy person comes in for an ankle sprain on a Saturday and we recognize signs or symptoms of high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid problems or other chronic health conditions, we make primary care referrals. We also understand the importance of communication with primary care physicians for better patient care. PCPs receive notes detailing treatment for every one of their patients who come to Next Level,” Breeze says. Catching problems before they have gone on too long, can change a company’s healthcare spend dramatically.

3. Migration of physicians into large healthcare organizations versus smaller private practices. There is a huge price difference in receiving services from a private organization versus a hospital-owned practice. Over the past three years, 62% of physicians practicing in the US have moved to become employed by a larger healthcare organization. Imaging, therapy, surgical procedures, and even doctors visits can be up to three times more expensive in a hospital-based setting due to the greater leverage they wield in payment negotiations. “In general, paying three times as much doesn’t get you three times better care. Most people aren’t aware that there is such a big price difference or that they have a choice” says Breeze. “As an employer, if you want to help stave off the increasing costs of healthcare, make educating your employees a priority. In order to stop the trend of rising costs, everyone needs to be concerned with making cost-effective healthcare decisions.” Next Level Urgent Care is the only Urgent Care in Houston accredited by ACOA, is the top rated urgent care in Houston on Yelp and has been named Reader’s Choice for Best Urgent Care by Living Magazine for the past two years. With nine locations across Houston, Next level is open from 9 AM to 9 PM seven days per week. If you are an employer and would like to learn more about our services including free employee education sessions regarding cost effective healthcare utilization, our cost-cutting work injury programs, or our employer loyalty programs, please contact us at: info@nextlevelurgentcare.com