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Save the ER for Emergencies

Ever wonder why emergency room waiting areas always seem filled with people waiting for hours to get care? One of the major reasons is that millions of Americans each year use emergency rooms for routine medical care.

Emergency room treatment for non-emergency medical conditions is also a major contributor to the rising cost of health care. On average, ER visits cost $383, while doctors' office visits cost about $60. On top of the huge waste of money and medical resources, the true tragedy is this: you can usually get more appropriate care for non-emergency conditions in a doctor's office.

When you visit a personal physician, you are seen by someone trained to care for most of your health needs. You can build a relationship and develop medical treatments specific to your needs. You can discuss your family health history and plan appropriate preventive measures, and the doctor is available for follow-up care to make sure that your treatment is effective.

Your physician will help you determine when the ER is the right choice. In an emergency you shouldn't hesitate to go to the ER, but if your condition isn't an emergency, check with your doctor first.

One of the best ways to reduce health care costs is to limit trips to the emergency room to true emergencies - life-threatening medical problems - and build a relationship with a Primary Care Physician (PCP) for routine care. It's a healthy way to keep health care affordable.