NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Urgent Care Centers and the Demand for Non-Emergent Emergency Department Visits

Lindsay Allen, Janet R. Cummings, Jason Hockenberry

NBER Working Paper No. 25428
Issued in January 2019
NBER Program(s):The Health Care Program, The Health Economics Program

Urgent care centers (UCCs) are a cost-efficient substitute to the emergency department (ED) for non-emergent conditions, but no study has identified their impact on ED demand. We address this gap using a novel strategy that exploits daily UCC operating times in a differencing framework. After UCCs close each day, local non-emergent ED visits increase by 1.43 percent (over the adjusted mean rate of 70.58 percent) in areas with multiple UCCs. This effect occurs only among the privately insured population, the target customers of UCCs. Our results suggest that UCCs are successfully substituting for EDs in the treatment of non-emergent conditions.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25428

 
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