Health care is a constant point of debate and discussion around the world and the U.S., perhaps now more than ever since it’s an election year. But even as prices and providers change though reforms and new laws, finding good health care, doctors, emergency rooms, and urgent care locations is easier than it used to be. Depending on the circumstance, one of these options might be better than the other.
Finding the Right Doctor for You
Although about only one in five Americans have access to a regular doctor, it’s extremely important to seek one out for you and your family. Children will need a pediatrician until they’re past college age (around 22 years old). All adults should seek a primary care provider for several reasons.
1) Routine Check-Ups
Choosing a regular doctor will allow you to receive physical examinations annually or every other year. And having a doctor who knows you well mentally and physically will allow him/her to better examine your overall health. For instance, a doctor you’re familiar with might already know that certain aspects of a physical exam make you uncomfortable, and can accommodate accordingly. Or, he/she might know that your career involves a lot of traveling, and therefore can provide the proper vaccinations, etc.
2) Preventing Problems
Part of the advantage of receiving regular check-ups from a primary care provider is that they allow your doctor to prevent illnesses from arising or worsening. The alternative is waiting until there’s an unexpected problem, resulting in a possible rush to the emergency room. The ER is of course still necessary when it comes to the unpreventable or severe, but it’s still best to have the peace of mind provided by your regular doctor.
3) Keeping Everything in Order
Another key advantage to having a relationship with a primary care physician is that it will keep your health documents all in one place. That way, if you need something transferred or dug up for, say, a job or a visit to an urgent care facility, the information is all right there, ready to go.
A Quick Alternative: Urgent Care
If you don’t have a primary care provider or if you need to quickly take care of something minor, there are over 7,000 urgent care locations in the U.S. Urgent care centers provide many services including flu vaccinations, and can treat several kinds of health problems, such as sprains, fractures, sores, colds, and more.
Urgent care facilities are designed to get patients in and out quickly while effectively taking care of their ailments. The majority of these facilities have wait times under 15 minutes, and most have a physician available at all times of the day. Sometimes you can’t access your primary care provider at a certain time, so fortunately urgent care hours are more flexible and open than the hours of a primary care facility. About 90% of them are open until 7:00 P.M. on weeknights, and 2 out of 5 are open until 9:00 P.M. or later.
Basically, if you have a problem that needs immediate attention but isn’t life-threatening, urgent care centers are there for you. It’s good to know where these places are located ahead of time, and a brief Internet search will be able to show you all the nearby urgent care locations. Again, in the event of a true emergency, a trip to the ER will be necessary.
The debates on health care in the U.S. will continue to rage on, but at least there are many ways to keep ourselves healthy and receive the proper treatment. It’s important to seek out a trustworthy primary care physician for yourself, and it’s also good to know where to find an urgent care center.