If you’re a parent, you know the helpless feeling that comes with having an ill child. Most often, the illness has a way of occurring at a time when your family doctor isn’t available. A visit to the emergency room entails sitting for hours before your child is seen by a doctor, and the subsequent bill you receive after the visit has you in need of a doctor visit all its own.
Low cost urgent care centers bridge the gap that exists between your family doctor’s availability and the high cost of an emergency room visit.
What is Urgent Care?
Urgent care centers are set up to handle the everyday health emergencies that occur, such as broken bones, an onset of the flu or a high fever. These clinics have the capability of providing x-rays and are open later than general practitioners. Many centers are open seven days a week for your convenience.
For people who can’t see their doctor because they work during the day, this can be a convenient way to get your annual flu shot or your child’s school physical without having to lose pay or sick time. Often, you can get care in the evening, on weekends and on some holidays. There is no need for an appointment. In some areas, urgent care centers are referred to as walk-in clinics or immediate care, but these terms all refer to the same kind of medical center.
What Kind of Illness Can They Handle?
Urgent care centers can handle a wide variety of injuries and illnesses. The typical center has the capability of treating illnesses such as dehydration and the flu. They can reset broken bones or stitch up a cut. In addition, they can administer school and sports exams as well as immunizations.
Issues that are life-threatening, such as heart attacks or gunshot wounds are better treated at an emergency room, but 90 percent of the issues treated in an emergency room can also be treated at an urgent care center. The best way to determine the need for an emergency room visit is whether or not an ambulance is absolutely necessary. Chest pain, a possible stroke or severe bleeding will all be better treated at an emergency room.
How Does the Cost Compare to an Emergency Room Visit?
While there is no way to determine the exact cost of either an emergency room visit or one to an urgent care center, a comparison of the average visit for the most common illnesses shows a significant difference. For example, treatment for an allergy attack can cost you $345 at an emergency room, compared to only $97 at an urgent care center. A urinary tract infection will only cost around $110 if you visit a walk-in clinic, but can cost upward of $667 if you visit an emergency room. The cost at both facilities is ultimately determined by the type of illness you have, but in practically all cases, the treatment at an urgent care facility will be considerably lower.
Time saved is also a factor in a visit to an urgent care center. Emergency rooms are often over-crowded and the wait can be hours for non-life-threatening complaints. At a typical urgent care center, you are seen by a qualified medical staff member within minutes of entering the facility. This can be a great relief when the patient is a child or there is severe discomfort. Shorter waiting times translate into a better feeling of well-being, happier patients and a quicker onset to recovery. Every minute you are in pain can feel like an hour.
Will My Insurance Be Accepted?
Regardless of whether you have private insurance or government-issued insurance, chances are you will be covered at an urgent care center. Private-pay clients are also welcome. If you do have insurance, the same co-payments that are required at other medical facilities will apply.
Your insurance company will be able to provide you with a list of urgent care centers in your area that accept your insurance. You can also call individual facilities and ask if your plan is accepted. By doing your research in advance, you can help save time and money.
Are Staff Members Qualified?
Urgent care facilities are staffed by the same trained and licensed professionals that staff any medical facility. The same requirements for employment are observed. You can be secure in the knowledge that the physician who treats you had to undergo the same training and licensing as your family doctor.
How Do I Find an Urgent Care Center in My Area?
There are more than 9000 urgent care centers in the United States. Each one needs to be accredited in order to provide medical care to the public. While you can check the Yellow Pages of your local phone directory, here is a directory broken down by state that will help you find the closest facility. By consulting this directory in advance, you can be prepared should you need to make a quick trip. It will also help you find any facilities that are nearby should you find yourself with a broken bone while on a vacation or visiting out-of-state relatives and friends.
Emergencies are a fact of life, especially if you are raising kids. Wen a child is hurt, you want to get the best possible care in the least amount of time. A trip to the emergency room used to be your only option, but you now have the option to provide your child with quality care at a fraction of the time and cost. Not only will you have the relief of seeing your child on their way to a quick recovery, but you will also enjoy knowing your insurance isn’t going to increase greatly because of the high cost of any emergency room visit.
For superior care, short wait times and friendly service in the Houston area, visit a Prime Urgent Care clinic near you.