With an increase of 119 percent between January 2008 and December 2015, the number of patients seeking urgent care services has seen a rapid rise in recent years. Researchers have determined that this increase has likely been caused by a surge in new clinic openings.
Folks have several reasons they may choose urgent care services over those offered by their family physician or local emergency department. If you’re unsure of which option to choose, the following questions will help you make the right decision for your situation.
Which is less expensive?
Most of the time, the factor foremost in the mind of any patient seeking treatment will be the costs associated with receiving the medical services they need. The out-of-pocket costs for cash visits to urgent care centers are always less expensive than a trip to a hospital emergency room.
Uninsured patients will usually only pay no more than a $125 base fee and those with insurance will pay as little as $20 for their co-payment. Just be sure to verify that your urgent care of choice doesn’t bill as an emergency room and you’re sure to be pleased with the cost of your visit.
Is it covered by insurance?
Patients with health insurance are generally covered for urgent care services with low co-pays due at the time of the visit. However, there are some considerations to be made such as the network status of the facility, as in-network co-pays will be less than those required for services rendered by out-of-network providers.
Before choosing any particular urgent care center, be sure to review your health insurance policy to confirm your coverage and associated co-pay. Then, begin calling around to the facilities in your area to verify that they accept your insurance for visits.
Can you wait for treatment?
Most people know how difficult it can be to get into to see their primary care physician in a timely manner. Additionally, emergency rooms are full of germs and bacteria and patients are treated based on immediate need regardless of how long they’ve been waiting to be seen.
For those with only mild symptoms of illness or injury, waiting the few hours for a nearby urgent care facility to open may actually be preferable to waiting for doctors and emergency rooms to see them. It could be that you are suffering flu-like symptoms or muscle pain.
How severe are your symptoms?
If you believe that you’re simply suffering from a mild to moderate illness or injury, but are unable to see your family practitioner, then urgent care may be your best bet in finding quick relief.
As long as a patient isn’t suffering a life-threatening condition, like those brought on by falls or light bleeding from cuts or scrapes, there is no reason he or she should visit an emergency room. In many cases, treatment for these types of ailments can be dealt with at home until which time you can see a medical provider.
Are you traveling?
With borders encompassing more than 3.9 square miles and more than 1.7 airline passengers traveling within the United States each year, we are often far away from home and the medical providers on which we usually rely.
One of the most common reasons patients will utilize the services of an urgent care facility is because they are traveling and cannot make it home before seeing their own doctor. Many find themselves just needing a prescription refilled while others are suffering from some illness their immune system had never before encountered.
In short, if you are traveling, if you can wait to seek treatment for your mild to moderate symptoms, or you just find it more financially beneficiary, urgent care is always a solid option. With no need to make appointments, and shorter wait times as well, a visit to a clinic near you will have you back on your feet in no time.