Do you find yourself frantically Googling “urgent care walk in clinic near me?” Unfortunately, unplanned medical issues never occur when you want them to (since, you never want them to…) and they are almost never convenient to get the necessary treatment. Cold symptoms typically always get worse at night while you’re sleeping. When you suddenly develop the symptoms of an upper respiratory infection, it’s usually in the middle of the night and your doctor can’t fit you in until the next day (if you’re lucky). This is a prime time to search “urgent care walk in clinic near me.”
When your child develops a fever that is not high enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room, but is certainly something you want to address immediately, this is a good time to search “urgent care walk in clinic near me.”
Heck, when you need a routine blood test, or a quick prescription for antibiotics, but don’t want to take a day off of work to get in to your doctor at a time while their office is open, this is a good time to search “urgent care walk in clinic near me.”
If you’ve never used an urgent care facility to get medical treatment, we’ve put together a list of five things you should know.
- You’ll probably wait less than 45 minutes to receive medical care. And likely as little as 15 minutes.
When going to a walk in urgent care facility, you should plan to wait for about 45 minutes if it is during a peak time, such as flu season. However, about 50% of patients who check in at an urgent care are able to see a doctor or nurse practitioner within 15 minutes. Some urgent care facilities offer pre-check-in options online, which allows you to hold your place in line while you drive over to the urgent care. You can also reduce your wait time by printing and filling out your medical history in advance.
If 45 minute wait times feels ridiculous to you, keep in mind that the average wait time at an emergency room is nearly two and a half hours. As an added bonus, as more patients use urgent care instead of ER for their medical needs that are not emergencies, the wait times for people who do have critical medical needs at the emergency room will go down as well.
- Urgent care clinics do not replace emergency room, or your primary care physician.
You should keep in mind that the urgent care clinic is not a replacement for either the emergency room or your family doctor, they are actually designed to fill the gap between the two.
The emergency room serves one purpose, and is very good at that one job: to treat emergencies. When the medical need of the patient is a life or death issue, the emergency room is the place it should be treated. Urgent care clinics are not equipped to administer life saving medical treatments.
Meanwhile, if you need to make a change to your ongoing health treatment, your primary care physician is the one who needs to see you. Your primary care physician is best suited to understand your medical history and work with you to develop the right ongoing medical plane.
Urgent care is meant to fit in between ER and primary care. If you need medical treatment before you can get in to your doctor, or you need a non-emergency treatment that your doctor doesn’t offer (such as fracture care or intravenous fluids), urgent care is your best bet.
- The cost of seeking care at an urgent care facility is going to be similar to the cost of care with your doctor.
You can walk into the emergency room for a seemingly minor medical treatment, and walk out with a bill in the thousands. In fact, if you visit the emergency room for a medical need that is not an emergency (hello, pink eye), your health insurance coverage might decline paying the additional cost.
Meanwhile, visiting urgent care typically costs an average of one-tenth of the bill you’d leave ER with (an average of $150 vs $1,500, respectively). Some health insurance companies handle urgent care as they would a regular medical visit, and charge your copay accordingly.