Demystifying urgent care costs: Deductibles, copays, and how to avoid inflated healthcare expenses

Understanding the financial implications of visiting an urgent care center is crucial in managing your healthcare expenses. As healthcare costs continue to rise, it’s essential for consumers to understand their insurance deductibles, copays, and the impact of choosing the right urgent care centers in NYC. 

Big chain urgent care centers, owned by hospitals, private equity investors, or insurance companies, contribute to increased medical expenses by billing and collecting higher payments. In contrast, independent urgent care centers like Nao Medical focus on providing cost-effective and transparent care. In this article, we’ll discuss how big chain urgent care centers inflate healthcare costs and how to make informed decisions when seeking urgent care.

Why NYC big chain urgent care centers inflate healthcare costs

Here are some reasons behind the inflated costs:

  • Contractual allowance: Big Chain Urgent Care centers are contractually allowed to bill more and collect those pass-through deductible costs from customers. As a result, patients with deductibles find themselves grappling with higher costs that become an inescapable reality.
  • Ownership: Big Chain Urgent Care centers are often owned directly or indirectly by hospitals, big box drug stores, or conglomerates. For example, GoHealth operates on behalf of Northwell and ProHealth/Optum is part of UnitedHealthcare. CityMD is owned by Walgreens. These conglomerates sometimes own insurance companies too, such as Aetna being owned by CVS.  In any healthcare marketplace, conglomerates have a vested interest in maximizing profits for their shareholders, leading to higher costs for consumers.
  • Feeder for specialist care: Big chain urgent care centers often act as feeders for specialist care, referring patients to specialists within their network for simple procedures. Instead of providing immediate medical attention, they tend to refer patients to specialists such as hand surgeons within their Ambulatory Surgical Centers for a  procedure as simple as stitching a cut finger that could be performed on-site. This practice drives up healthcare costs and creates inconvenience for patients.
  • Increased medical costs: By billing and collecting higher payments, Big Chain urgent care centers contribute to the overall increase in medical costs. Moreover, they often send patients to the hospitals that sponsor them for diagnostic tests.
  • Opaque pricing: Big chain urgent care centers typically have unclear pricing for common medical services, making it difficult for patients to understand their costs upfront.
  • Hospital and insurance company ties: Many big chain urgent care centers have carefully structured affiliations with hospitals or insurance companies. Their ownership structure circumvents conflicts of interests and higher costs for patients.

How Nao Medical saves you money on deductible costs

At Nao Medical, we believe that a visit for a sore throat shouldn’t cost $375, which is what you might pay at a big chain urgent care center in NYC. At Nao Medical, we prioritize transparency, cost-effectiveness, and patient satisfaction by providing our medical tests at our urgent care locations and partnering with labs contracted by your insurance.

How to avoid sticker shock at urgent care centers

Being proactive and well-informed about the costs associated with urgent care visits can help you avoid unexpected medical bills. Here are some tips to help you make informed decisions when choosing an urgent care provider:

Look for transparency

Seek urgent care centers with transparent pricing for common medical services. Choose a provider that clearly outlines costs on their website or at their office location. Be cautious of big chain urgent care centers that send patients to affiliated hospitals for lab tests instead of conducting them in-house.

Understand your costs upfront

Before you go, research the urgent care center’s costs for specific services. Call the location directly and ask about their rates for specific services and any available discounts or specials.

Know your insurance deductible and copay information

Understand your out-of-pocket expenses for an urgent care visit by checking your health insurance card for copay information. Your deductible information can be found on the summary provided by your insurance company. If you don’t have this information handy, call your provider to ask about your coverage and confirm your deductible details.

Why choose Nao Medical for your urgent care needs

Nao Medical offers a range of benefits compared to big chain urgent care centers, helping you save money on your deductible costs while receiving quality medical care. Here’s how Nao Medical stands out:

  • In-house medical tests: Nao Medical performs many tests in-house, reducing costs and inconvenience for patients.
  • Transparent pricing: All our prices are listed on our website. We believe that medical care should be accessible and affordable, so we strive to provide clear pricing information for our services.
  • Quality care: Our skilled healthcare professionals are dedicated to providing personalized, patient-centered care in a comfortable and friendly environment.


Understanding urgent care deductibles, copays, and the differences between big chain and independent urgent care centers can help you make informed decisions about your healthcare. By choosing a transparent provider like Nao Medical, you can avoid inflated costs and receive the high-quality care you deserve without breaking the bank.

Next time you’re in need of urgent care, don’t just search for “urgent care near me” and choose the first option you find. Instead, take the time to research and compare providers, keeping in mind the potential pitfalls of big chain urgent care centers. By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to manage your healthcare expenses and receive the best possible care for your needs.

Key takeaways

  • Big chain urgent care centers often inflate healthcare costs due to their ownership structure and billing practices.
  • These centers may refer patients to specialists or their own Ambulatory Surgical Centers for simple procedures, driving up costs and causing inconvenience.
  • Nao Medical keeps costs low by administering tests in-house and sending patients to labs contracted by their insurance.
  • Choose a transparent provider that clearly outlines costs upfront, and research rates for specific services before your visit.
  • Be aware of your insurance deductible and copay information to avoid unexpected out-of-pocket expenses.

Armed with this knowledge, you can confidently navigate the world of urgent care and make choices that benefit both your health and your wallet. Remember, it’s always best to do your research ahead of time and be prepared for any potential costs, so you can focus on what’s most important: getting the care you need when you need it.

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Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered, construed or interpreted as legal or professional advice, guidance or opinion.

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