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Shopping for Urgent Care

Jenny Decker RN's picture

For someone who is not familiar with urgent care choices and where the best place is to get care for a broken arm or chest pain, the variety of places that is available can be confusing. Just a few years ago, there was the doctor’s office or the emergency room. Now there are even services in the local grocery store! Urgent care shopping requires some background knowledge about the services provided.

The types of services available include the typical doctor’s office (primary care), emergency rooms, urgent care clinics, and in-store clinics. Each place provides different types of care, waiting times are not the same, and costs are diverse. Knowing the differences in the services provided can provide the urgent care shopper with more time and save money, but it can also save your life!

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The emergency room provides services for those with chest pain, difficulty breathing, severe bleeding and the like. Emergency rooms are equipped to handle any problems that come through the door, but waiting time and cost can be huge deterrents. Emergency departments cannot turn you away for the inability to pay, however, it is not first come, first served. This is because those who have life threatening conditions will be seen first. Minutes can cost someone their life and using those minutes to take the person who came in before them is obviously unwise. Waiting times can be just a few minutes to several hours, depending on what is going on at the time. Costs for the emergency room urgent care choice can be astronomical, so if you want to save money and you really do not need a life saving measure, than choose somewhere else to get help.

Physician offices are a good choice for services such as for high blood pressure. Depending on the office, services provided at a primary care provider include the ability to test for urinary tract infections and swab throats for strep throat testing. A copay with insurance is often the cost, depending on the service that is needed. Often the hours are from 9 to 5 on weekdays. Waiting times can vary, but patients come in on appointments. Sometimes it is difficult to get into a doctor right away, like during flu season. So, an in-store clinic may be the next option.

In-store clinics can be beneficial because while one is waiting, they could be shopping instead of reading magazines. The costs are generally low. The providers are generally nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses who treat primary illnesses. Nurse practitioners often are known for taking just a few extra moments with patients and teaching them about their problem, the treatment they are receiving, and how to avoid it in the future. Nurse practitioners are often warm and tend to have the nurturing nature about them. A good buy for the urgent care shopper.

Source: US News