In a recent survey conducted with the Urgent Care Association, Solv found that patients were waiting an average of 24 days for appointments with their primary care provider. In a world of instant gratification, consumers demand more. They demand now. If you want to watch a movie, you download it in minutes or stream it instantly. If you need groceries, you can pick up your phone and have them delivered to you within the hour. If you need restaurant reservations, you find one with availability, book online, walk in minutes later and sit right down. Healthcare shouldn’t be any different.

That’s why urgent care has been growing at a faster pace than any other healthcare service in the United States. And it is why healthcare consumers search for “urgent care” more than 5x more than “primary care” or “family doctor,” combined. These consumers are highly actionable, searching with high intent terms like “urgent care near me.” They want same day access to quality healthcare providers when they are sick or injured - after hours, one weekends and on holidays - without the cost and inconvenience of the emergency room.

Urgent care centers typically treat minor illnesses like the flu, sinus infections and strep throat, as well as injuries like bone fractures and sprains, cuts, scrapes and burns, making these clinics ideal for diagnosing and treating non-emergent healthcare needs. And at a growing rate urgent care clinics are offering preventative care services including annual physicals and well visits, flu shots and other immunizations and vaccines, taking on the role of primary care provider for the tens of millions of consumers that don’t have one.

For kids there are special pediatric urgent care centers, usually open after hours for patients between the ages of 1 and 18.

Urgent Care Guide

Services & Pricing

Urgent care centers, which are part of the walk-in clinic healthcare category, are a convenient resource for consumers needing treatment for minor illnesses and injuries. Services that you would normally receive at your primary care office are usually available at an urgent care including annual and school physicals, flu shots and immunizations, treatment for illnesses including colds, flu stomach pains, sinus and ear infections and more. You can also be seen for injuries such as burns, bites, sprains and breaks - things that you might first thing to go to the emergency room vs urgent care, but you’ll have a shorter wait and smaller bill at the urgent care. As for cost, without insurance, you should expect between $100-140 for your visit, plus the cost of any labs, tests or images. With insurance, urgent care will be similar to seeing a specialist with applicable co-pay.

Insurance & Payments

Nearly all urgent care centers take commercial insurance and many (if not most) will take medicare. As such if you have insurance coverage, you can expect the financial experience to be similar to visiting a specialist where you have a co-pay, usually $35-50, due at the time of the visit. Any additional lab work, x-rays or other tests performed will be billed against your insurance first and any supplemental balance due will be invoiced to you after the fact. Without insurance, you’ll pay a visit fee between $100-140 at the time of your visit. This is typically 25-50% more than your primary care provider, but usually the convenience is well worth the additional cost. If you are interested in a telehealth or video visit, your cost could be as much as 50% less than an urgent care, you could be diagnosed and prescribed medication and you’ll never have to leave your home.

Hours & Wait Times

Every urgent care center - even those part of the same group or brand - may have different hours. While they are meant to be conveniently accessible during times when your primary care provider is not, that’s subjective and highly variable. A traditional formula, however, is that an urgent care is open 6 to 7 days a week usually between the hours of 8 am to 8 pm. That could shift to nearly any 8-12 hour period between 7 am and 10 pm. You’ll even find some clinics open 24 hours a day, similar to an emergency room. As for wait time, most patients report waiting between 15-45 minutes on average, but that can certainly vary, as well. It’s usually best to find an urgent care near you to either confirm the hours online, or call the clinic directly to verify. Or, you can book a same day doctor appointment online with Solv.

Urgent Care FAQs

  • What is urgent care?

    The concept of urgent care is to serve a gap in the healthcare market when your primary care physician is not available while your injury or illness does not constitute a visit to the emergency room (ER). An urgent care is a walk-in clinic that specializes in the delivery of non-emergent healthcare conditions, including the treatment of most common injuries and illnesses including sprains and fractures, scrapes, cuts and burns, bites and stings, cold and flu symptoms, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and much more. Additionally, urgent care centers provide both diagnostic and preventative care including well visits, STD testing annual physicals and immunizations like flu shots. Patients should typically expect to pay between $20-100 for routine visits and services and most clinics will accept major insurance plans and PPOs, Medicare, and of course self-pay patients with cash or a major credit card.

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  • When should I go to the urgent care vs emergency room (ER)?

    Urgent care centers could be considered a hybrid between a primary care physicians (PCPs) office and an emergency room, serving the immediate and after hours needs of nearby patients. Many urgent care operators even indicate they can diagnose and treat up to 75% of the patients typically seen in an ER. The real difference is in the patient experience as the average ER wait time is nearly 2.5 hours whereas an urgent care will likely only be 15-45 minutes and the cost is usually a fraction of what you would incur. In the case of a medical emergency, always go to an ER as an urgent care is designed for non-emergent and more minor injuries and illnesses.

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  • What’s the difference between an urgent care and walk-in clinic?

    Urgent care center, walk-in clinic, immediate care clinic, retail clinic, convenient care clinic; the terms are used often interchangeably these days. Then there are emergency rooms, which also get tossed into the mix to further complicate the conversation. Essentially, any clinic that allows patients to walk-in with no advance appointment is a walk-in clinic. An urgent care center represents a subset of the walk-in clinic model that generally offers extended hours, expanded services and capabilities and on-site x-rays and lab tests.

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  • How much does an urgent care cost?

    Urgent care centers vary by location and there are no real standards between them. This means that one urgent care clinic might charge you $75 while another one a mile away could charge $150, assuming you are a cash paying patient. However, in general the cost of an urgent care visit without insurance ranges from $100-125. This is the base price of a visit before additional services. Of course, there are a few additional urgent care services that could make your visit more costly including medication and injections (including immunizations), tests, labs and x-rays, casting broken bones, as well as splints and stitches. If you are walking in with insurance, typical co-pays wil range from $20-50 depending on your plan and whether you are in network with the provider.

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  • Is insurance accepted at urgent care centers?

    Each insurance provider determines if it covers urgent care centers or not. And individual clinics and providers may or may not have a relationship with a specific carrier (or plan). This makes it complicated, for sure. However, in most cases insurance providers will cover urgent care and patients will be expected to pay a co-payment for each visit. In some rare cases, an urgent care center may choose not to accept your insurance, even if your insurance provider would otherwise pay for the care. While you could safely assume that an urgent care center will take your insurance, it is always best to call ahead and be certain.

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