The Use and Out-of-Pocket Cost of Urgent Care Clinics and Retail-Based Clinics by Adolescents and Young Adults Compared With Children

Charlene A. Wong, Alexander Bain, Daniel Polsky, Raina M. Merchant, Yaa Akosa Antwi, Gail Slap, David Rubin, Carol A. Ford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose We describe the use and out-of-pocket cost of urgent care clinics (UCCs) and retail-based clinics (RBCs) as ambulatory care alternatives to physician offices among children, adolescents, and young adults, and examine differences in use by age. Methods Cross-sectional analysis describing diagnoses and out-of-pocket costs for 8.9 million UCC, RBC, and physician office encounters by privately insured child (aged <11 years), adolescent (aged 11–18 years), and young adult (aged 19–30 years) beneficiaries in a U.S. national administrative data set from January to June 2013. We calculate relative odds (RO) of UCC and RBC utilization by adolescents and young adults, using physician office encounters and children as reference groups. Results UCC (n = 286,144) and RBC (n = 89,903) visits were <5% of encounters. Upper respiratory infections were the most common diagnosis at UCCs (children 25.2%, adolescents 27.3%, young adults 26.5%) and RBCs (38.1%, 44.1%, 42.0%). The mean out-of-pocket cost was higher for UCCs (children +$38, adolescents +$29, young adults +$25) and lower for RBCs (−$4, −$15, −$18) compared with physician office encounters. For adolescents, the adjusted relative probability of UCC or RBC versus physician office encounters was 9% higher (RO = 1.09, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.08–1.10) and 31% higher (RO = 1.31, 95% CI = 1.29–1.34), respectively, compared with children. For young adults, the adjusted relative probability of a UCC or RBC encounter was 54% (RO = 1.54, 95% CI = 1.52–1.55) and 68% (RO = 1.68, 95% CI = 1.65–1.71) higher, respectively. Conclusions Adolescents and young adults were more likely to visit RBCs and UCCs than children. Understanding of UCC and RBC use, cost, and quality of care is needed to inform policies on their roles in health care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-112
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Ambulatory care
  • Ambulatory care facilities
  • Health care utilization
  • Health services accessibility
  • Pediatrics
  • Primary care
  • Retail clinic
  • Urgent care
  • Young adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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