If you’re like most people, you probably only go to the doctor when there’s something wrong. And if it’s something urgent, a broken bone, an infection, or stitches, then you go to urgent care. But what if you don’t have a primary care physician? Or what if your insurance doesn’t cover urgent care? Join us as we answer all of those questions and more.
What Is Urgent Care?
Urgent care is a type of walk-in clinic that provides medical attention for non-life threatening injuries or illnesses. urgent care centers are usually open for longer hours than a traditional doctor’s office, and they’re often located in convenient locations, like shopping malls or strip malls. Urgent care is a great option if you can’t get an appointment with your primary care physician, or if you need medical attention after hours.
What Services Are Offered at Urgent Care?
Urgent care centers offer a wide range of services, from X-rays and stitches to treatment for minor fractures and burns. Most urgent care centers are equipped to handle everything from common colds and flu to more serious conditions like ear infections and bronchitis.
What Happens if You Need to Be Transferred to the ER?
In some cases, urgent care providers may determine that you need to be transferred to the emergency room for further treatment. If this happens, the staff at urgent care will coordinate with the ER staff to make sure that you receive the care you need.
Is Urgent Care Covered by Insurance?
The answer to this question depends on your insurance plan. Some insurance plans cover this form of medical care, while others do not pay for services provided by urgent care. Philadelphia, PA is a good example of where you can get urgent care coverage from insurance providers. If you’re not sure whether or not your insurance plan covers urgent care, call the customer service number on the back of your card and ask.
What if My Insurance Doesn’t Cover Urgent Care?
If your insurance doesn’t cover urgent care, you’ll still be responsible for paying the entire bill. However, many urgent care centers offer discounts for cash-paying patients. Be sure to ask about any discounts or specials before you receive treatment. You may also want to consider using a credit card with rewards points that can be used towards medical expenses.
What Should You Bring With You to Your Urgent Care Appointment?
When you visit urgent care, be sure to bring your driver’s license or another form of identification, your insurance card, and a list of your current medications. You should also bring a copy of your medical records if you have them.
When to Visit an Urgent Care vs. Your Primary Care Physician?
Your primary care physician is your go-to for routine care, such as physicals, vaccinations, and screenings. Urgent care is best for urgent medical needs that can’t wait for a regular appointment. If you’re not sure whether you should visit urgent care or your primary care physician, give your doctor’s office a call. They’ll be able to advise you on the best course of action.
There are a few scenarios in which urgent care is the best option for you to seek medical care:
- You can’t get an appointment with your primary care physician.
- Your primary care physician’s office is closed.
- You need treatment for a minor injury or illness.
Remember, if you have a life-threatening condition, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
Why Should You Visit an Urgent Care Instead of the ER?
The emergency room is for life-threatening conditions only. If you go to the ER for a minor injury or illness, you’ll be taking up a bed that could be used for someone who is truly in need of urgent medical attention. In addition, ER wait times can be very long, sometimes hours, whereas urgent care wait times are usually much shorter.
Most Common Illnesses and Injuries Treated at Urgent Care Clinics
The urgent care clinics are a great option for non life-threatening injuries or illnesses that need urgent attention but not emergency room level attention. Some of the most common urgent care cases include:
- Cuts that may need stitches.
- Broken bones (fingers, toes).
- First or second-degree burns.
- Insect bites or bee stings.
- Rashes such as poison ivy or contact dermatitis.
- Ear pain lasting more than 24 hours.
- Sore throat with fever.
- Vomiting or diarrhea.
Urgent care is a great option for those times when you need medical attention but can’t get an appointment with your primary care physician or the ER is not an option. Be sure to check with your insurance provider to see if urgent care is covered under your plan. And when you visit urgent care, be sure to bring your insurance card, ID, and a list of your current medications.