When an unforeseen illness or injury occurs we have a couple options to where we can seek help. There’s your primate care physician, emergency care, and urgent care centers. Which one you want to choose will depend mainly on what treatment you need. If you feel the situation is life threatening you should seek emergency room care; however, if your issue is not life threatening, but still requires medical help, it may be a good idea to seek one of your nearest urgent care locations.
Choosing Urgent Care Over Primary Physician?
Depending on the situation, and what you need medically, you may want to choose an urgent care location over your usual doctors office. Many clinics take walk ins, and the wait is often much less than if you were to seek treatment in the ER.
Here are somethings to check when researching urgent care locations.
- Make sure you know where the urgent care center is located.
- Check and make sure they accept your insurance brand.
- See what type of services the center provides.
- Keep in mind the hours they’re open.
- See if you could possibly book an appointment online.
Make Sure You Know the Nearest Urgent Care Locations.
If a health concern arises unexpectedly, you need to know exactly where you can go to seek treatment. Make sure the center you choose is within a reasonable distance. If you choose a clinic that is an hour away, depending on the medical issue, it could be difficult to get there. Unless absolutely necessary try to select on in your local area.
Most insurance do offer coverage options for urgent care centers, provided they are within their network; however the co-pay amount may be different than a standard doctor’s visit. Make sure and double check with the clinic and you insurance to see how much, if any, will be required up front during a visit. It is worth keeping in mind, however, that even if your insurance isn’t accepted, in the event you have to make a quick minute decision, urgent care centers will cost less then a standard ER visit.
What Type of Providers are Available?
The practitioners that are available at urgent care centers varies from location to location. However, you will commonly find:
- Licenced nurse practitioners.
- Standard physicians.
- Lab technicians
All of the above are able to treat non-life threatening issues. In fact, there are approximately 20,000 physicians in the United States who practice Urgent Care Medicine. Make sure to check and make sure that the clinic near you has the appropriate practitioners that you need at a moments notice.
Various clinics have different hours, and around 85% are open 7 days a week. While there are 24 hour urgent care centers that are open all the time, some have set operating hours, and may not be open when you end up needing treatment. Make sure you know your options, and have a backup selected if your nearest clinic isn’t open all the time.
While usually not necessary, if you have an acute problem that doesn’t need immediate assistance, it might be a good idea to see if you can book an appointment online. By doing this you can assure that you will be seen without a long stay in the waiting room. The average waiting time without an appointment can range anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes, depending on how busy they are, not as bad as the ER, but if it can be avoided with an appointment, you might want to consider it. (Especially if you have small children who need to be brought along. Trying to keep them occupied for long while ill is added stress that you don’t need.)
Urgent care centers can be great if you need medical attention quick. According to the Urgent Care Association of America, around 3 million people visit urgent care facilities each week. They’re great alternatives for issues not requiring life saving intervention in the emergency room. If you haven’t already, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the urgent care locations around you. It’s best to have a plan and never use it, then to not have one when something unfortunate happens.