A Rutgers-Eagleton poll finds that most New Jersey residents are treated by private physicians, but many people still use the emergency room for noncritical health concerns.
The poll shows 8 percent use the ER for all their medical needs, no matter how small. But only 3 percent use urgent care centers, all the time, for treatment.
Linda Schwimmer, president and CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, said urgent care centers are a better alternative than an ER when your doctor’s unavailable.
“It’s a lot more cost effective, you have a shorter waiting period, and they are good at connecting back to your primary care doctor who can then really manage your care on an ongoing basis,” she said Wednesday.
Schwimmer said it’s likely more patients would visit urgent care centers if those centers accepted Medicaid.
She said she hopes the survey is a step toward designing health benefits plans people will buy and use.
“I think anything that can cover services to keep people out of the emergency room and to make it more convenient for getting the care that they need rather than putting it off is going to be better for New Jerseyans overall,” Schwimmer said.