When an unexpected health issue comes up, you have the choice between going to your primary doctor, the emergency room, and urgent care. Which you choose largely depends on what kind of care you need. If you’re experiencing a true emergency, you should always go to the emergency room or call 911. But if your health concern is not life-threatening but is serious enough to need immediate attention, going to urgent care is the quickest way to get quality, affordable care.
You may be wondering — is choosing an urgent care center like choosing a primary care provider (PCP)? Actually, in a way it is. Urgent medical situations happen and, when they do, it’s a good idea to know ahead of time which urgent care clinic you’ll go to. This will save you time and energy and give you peace of mind.
Keep reading for more information on how to choose an urgent care center.
- Where is the urgent care center located?
- Do they accept my insurance?
- What type of providers work at the urgent care center?
- What hours are they open?
- Does the center allow me to book appointments online?
- Will the urgent care center share information about my visit with my PCP?
Where is the Urgent Care located?
When you have an unexpected health issue come up, the last thing you’ll want to do is drive 45 minutes away to go to urgent care. Ideally, the urgent care center you choose will only be a quick car ride away. That said, if you can’t find an urgent care center you love in your area, it may be worth considering clinics in surrounding areas.
Either way, you’ll want to know roughly how long it will take you to get to urgent care. When you book an appointment online, this will help you decide how much time you need to get there.
Does the Urgent Care Accept my Insurance?
It’s up to your insurance provider to determine whether they will cover the cost of an urgent care visit. Most health plans do offer in-network coverage for urgent care, though your co-pay may be different than what it is for a regular doctor visit. You’ll want to check before you go, so you can be prepared for what you may have to pay out-of-pocket.
When you’re choosing an urgent care center, you’ll want to make sure they accept your insurance. If they are in-network, that means they’ve negotiated a rate with your insurance company, so you’ll end up paying less.
Not all urgent care centers accept all types of insurance, though. If the urgent care center you choose is out-of-network, your insurance plan may refuse to pay, leaving you stuck with a hefty medical bill. Some clinics don’t accept any insurance, so you’ll have to pay for the cost of your visit out-of-pocket. Even so, you’ll still pay far less than you would at the ER.
Before you choose an urgent care clinic, check on Solv or call to ask if they accept your insurance. Then, call your insurance provider to double check that the clinic is considered in-network. It’s best to get clarification up front, so you can avoid any unpleasant surprises.
What Type of Providers Work at this Urgent Care?
At any given urgent care center, there are several different types of providers. These can include (but aren’t necessarily limited to):
- Nurse practitioners
- Physician’s assistants
- Lab technicians
All of these medical professionals are trained to treat patients with acute medical issues. When you’re choosing between urgent care centers, one question you may want to ask is: what type of providers work here?
As an adult, you may not care who you see, as long as they can make you feel better. But if you have kids, going to an urgent care that has pediatricians on staff is smart, since they specialize in treating sick children.
Some urgent care centers only accept adult patients, while others only treat children. Before you choose, find out if your whole family can go to the same urgent care or if you’ll need to find separate clinics — this can make a big difference in your experience.
What Hours is the Urgent Care Open?
When you need care, you should be able to get it — fast. Different urgent care centers have different hours, so you’ll want to find one that has hours that are convenient for you. Urgent care centers that are closed weekends and holidays may not be the best choice. It just depends on what you need!
Does the Clinic Allow me to Book Visits Online?
The average wait time at urgent care facilities when you don’t have an appointment can be anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes. This is impacted by a variety of factors — how many other patients are waiting to be seen, how serious their illnesses or injuries are, whether they’ve made an appointment beforehand, and how long it takes doctors to treat the patients who are seen before you.
While urgent care centers are great for having the option of walking in when you need care, many allow you to book same-day appointments online. This can save you a lot of time. In fact, the average time people who book an appointment with Solv wait is under 8 minutes (that’s only about 3 minutes longer than you’d wait for your morning coffee at Starbucks!).
Walk-ins without an appointment wait at least 2 times longer than those who have an appointment. When you or your kids aren’t feeling well, those extra minutes can feel like forever.
Will the Clinic Share Info About my Visit with my PCP?
After a visit to urgent care, you’ll probably need to book a follow-up appointment with your regular doctor. Getting ahold of your medical records from urgent care and making sure your doctor gets them is a hassle. Look for an urgent care center that communicates directly with your primary care provider. This will save you a lot of time and energy, so you can focus on getting better, faster.
Let Solv help you choose an urgent care clinic
Chances are high that you or your child (or both of you) will need to go to urgent care. Choosing an urgent care center shouldn’t be confusing. Thankfully, you can use the Solv database to find an urgent care clinic near you, then book a same-day urgent care appointment at the center of your choice.
Related Urgent Care FAQs
Is Urgent Care Covered by Insurance?
Are Urgent Cares Open on Weekends and Holidays?
Do I Need an Appointment for an Urgent Care?
How Long Do I Have to Wait at an Urgent Care?
Is Urgent Care Covered by Medicare?
How Much Does Urgent Care Cost?
Are Urgent Care Centers Expensive?