- Urgent care centers can be a viable option for uninsured patients, providing walk-in service. However, full payment is required at the time of service, unlike emergency rooms which offer payment plans.
- Urgent care centers typically operate longer hours than traditional physician offices, but are not open 24/7. For care needed outside of these hours, an emergency room visit is necessary.
- Choosing an urgent care center should be based on the services needed and the hour of service. Factors to consider include whether the center has necessary equipment (like x-ray machines), if it staffs physicians, dispenses medications on-site, and if it's accredited by an official body like the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine.
- Despite the benefits of urgent care centers, in cases of major trauma, uncontrollable bleeding, labor, or loss of consciousness, patients should go directly to an emergency room.
If you or a family member are sick, then you will need to quickly determine where to go for medical care. If you are considering urgent care treatment there are a few things you should consider before you go. It is also important to know when you should NOT go to an urgent care.
Urgent Care for Uninsured Patients
Uninsured patients have few options when it comes to medical care. Emergency rooms must accept all patients, but that isn't always the best choice if your condition is mild to moderate as you may have to wait several hours before being seen. Urgent care centers will also see uninsured patients on a walk-in basis. However, if a patient is uninsured he or she must pay in full at the time of service.
Prices for medical care in urgent care locations vary, but the average price is $71-125 for a routine visit prior to any tests or medications. It is important to remember that urgent care centers do not offer payment plans, whereas emergency rooms do offer payment plans.
After Hours Care
While urgent care centers are generally open much longer than traditional physicians' offices, they are not open 24/7 at most locations. Patients should check online or call for specific location hours. In general, urgent care centers are open from 7 AM until 9 PM every day of the week, but again, that may vary. People needing care between 9 PM and 7 AM will need to go to emergency rooms.
How to Choose a Location
Based on the services needed and the hour of service, patients can choose an urgent care center using an online search engine, searching for "urgent care near me." For example, if a patient needs an x-ray for a possible broken bone, he or she should search for a center that has an x-ray machine. Also, not every urgent care location staffs physicians, dispenses medications on-site or is accredited by an official body such as the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine (AAUCM). If these things are important for you, then you should be more selective prior to making the trip.
Hopefully this information will make you better prepared to choose an urgent care for future medical needs. However, patients should remember that in cases of major trauma, uncontrollable bleeding, labor, or loss of consciousness that they should go directly to emergency rooms.
Frequently asked questions
When should I consider going to an urgent care?You should consider going to an urgent care when you or a family member are sick and need immediate medical attention. However, it is not recommended for major trauma, uncontrollable bleeding, labor, or loss of consciousness.
Can uninsured patients receive treatment at urgent care centers?Yes, uninsured patients can receive treatment at urgent care centers. However, they must pay in full at the time of service.
What is the average cost of a routine visit at an urgent care center?The average cost of a routine visit at an urgent care center ranges from $71-125, excluding any tests or medications.
Do urgent care centers offer payment plans?No, urgent care centers do not offer payment plans. Payment plans are typically offered by emergency rooms.
What are the operating hours of most urgent care centers?Most urgent care centers operate from 7 AM until 9 PM every day of the week. However, this may vary by location.
What should I do if I need medical care outside of urgent care operating hours?If you need medical care outside of urgent care operating hours, you will need to go to an emergency room.
How can I find an urgent care center near me?You can find an urgent care center near you by using an online search engine and searching for "urgent care near me."
What should I consider when choosing an urgent care center?When choosing an urgent care center, consider the services needed, the hours of service, whether the center has necessary equipment like an x-ray machine, whether physicians are staffed, whether medications are dispensed on-site, and whether the center is accredited by an official body such as the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine.