One of the biggest problems in healthcare today is being able to find a doctor who will take on new patients and who will accept the health insurance plan that you have. While that can be difficult now, it is forecast to only get worse. Current data indicates that the U.S. needs more than 50,000 primary physicians by 2025 just to keep up with the current growth. And that doesn’t even take into account specialists. If you have minor medical issues, it can be more convenient and in some cases cheaper to visit and urgent care center.
If you need chemotherapy treatment or chronic pain treatment, you obviously need to see a specialist. But if you just have a sore throat or a sprained ankle, you can visit an urgent care center. At an urgent care center, you can get the immediate care you need for a variety of medical conditions, including cold and flu symptoms, earaches, cough, sprains and strains, cuts and many others. You also can get more general health services such as sports or work physicals, vaccinations, checkups and a number of other services.
There are a number of different types of urgent care centers. Some are standalone clinics, while others might be inside of another business, such as a grocery store or pharmacy. Some clinics are staffed by doctors, while others may have most of their care provided by physician’s assistants or nurse practitioners.
There are some definite advantages to walk-in clinics. Most keep hours that are outside of the normal daily business hours of physician offices. For example, they may be open to 8 or 9 at night, and they often have hours on the weekends. Also, urgent care provides emergency care services much more cheaply than an emergency room. Visiting an emergency room can cost you hundreds of dollars, and many insurance companies these days levy fees on patients who are not admitted. In most cases, you can get adequate care at a walk-in clinic for a fraction of the cost.
It is best to find a family doctor that you can go to regularly and who will know your medical background. But this doesn’t work for everyone, nor is your doctor always going to be available when you need him or her. In those cases, it can make sense to use an urgent care center, which can allow you to get the care you need when you need it.
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