If you’ve ever been sick or injured and without insurance, you may have believed that your only option was to head to the emergency room at your local hospital. Many patients in need of low-cost healthcare make this mistake, and they can be left with a bill of $1,500 on average or higher. This can be especially upsetting for those who did not even have a life-threatening condition, either, and it means that receiving the medical bill can be even more frightening than needing medical care.
However, there is an option in the United States that is expanding in just about every city and even in suburban and rural areas: urgent care centers. Urgent care clinics are becoming more popular because they give patients access to walk-in treatment without having to wait as long as they would in an emergency room. They also generally keep later hours than physicians’ offices, many of which close around 5:00 p.m. Some of these facilities even offer 24 hour urgent care services, so patients who need immediate medical attention can receive it any time.
Anyone who has been to the emergency room before knows how long the wait times can be. The Urgent Care Association of America, however, reports that 57% of patients using urgent care services wait just 15 minutes or less to see a medical professional; roughly 80% of all visits to urgent care services are under one hour total. This provides a great alternative to waiting for hours in an emergency room, especially for people who have other responsibilities that day.
Emergency room visits are also expensive and can cost patients thousands of dollars. The average cost for an urgent care visit, however, is around $150. Many of these facilities also accept various forms of insurance, which is convenient for individuals and families who have it. They will also accept patients who don’t have insurance.
Finally, urgent medical care services are just as well-staffed as your average doctors’ office, with a mix of physicians, nurses, and medical assistants in at least two-thirds of such facilities. Approximately two-thirds (65%) have at least one physician on duty at all times to ensure optimal care. These professionals can treat conditions that range from small injuries such as sprains and fractures to illnesses of the respiratory or gastrointestinal systems. Those with non-life-threatening emergencies, such as food poisoning, concussions, and other injuries can also receive treatment from urgent care doctors and staff.
Have questions about urgent care? Make sure to find a qualified clinic near you. You never know when it could come in handy.