In an Emergency, Urgent Care Often Is the Better Choice
When you have a medical issue and need to see a doctor outside of normal business hours for a physicians office, you have two choices: the emergency room or family urgent care. Going to the emergency room is expensive, and more and more health insurance plans are trying to discourage the practice by adding extra fees for those visits. Visiting a walk-in urgent care center has some advantages and can be the better choice by far.
Of course, the biggest advantage of going to a family urgent care center instead of the emergency room is cost. An ER visit can easily cost several hundred dollars, and that doesn’t even count any costs for tests or medical supplies you might need. On the other hand, most urgent care centers have rates that are comparable to what you would pay to see your regular doctor. In addition, most insurers treat a visit to an urgent care clinic the same as a visit to the doctor, so you won’t face any extra surcharges.
Though urgent care clinics aren’t open round the clock like emergency rooms are, most have have significant availability outside of normal business hours. About 97% of urgent care centers are open seven days a week and most offer evening hours.
Another benefit to going to urgent care is that there are fewer patients waiting to be seen. If you go to the emergency room with a sick child, you will be considered a low priority and could have to wait several hours if there are more acute cases, such as heart attack or trauma victims. When you visit an urgent care center, you will be seen in the order you arrive, which means your wait is likely to be much shorter. In fact, in about 60% of cases, the wait is 15 minutes or less.
Urgent care centers can treat many of the ailments for which people visit an emergency room. Walk-in clinics can deal with sprains, sore throats, flu symptoms and a host of other ailments. Studies have shown that anywhere from a quarter to more than half of all ER visits are for things that an urgent care center could adequately care for.
Though there will be times when going to the ER is unavoidable, such as when you have a traumatic injury or if you have a child who wakes up ill in the middle of the night, in most other cases, a visit to a family urgent care center will be the better choice.