Are you having an emergency? Is it something that can be handled by an Urgent care? Or should you just wait to see your doctor in the morning? We have all asked ourselves these 3 questions. Where you decide to go on a Saturday morning or late evening with a medical concern makes a big difference. It matters to your wallet, to the treatment and expertise you receive and to utilization of ERs and Urgent care clinics. Insurance companies want to keep their costs down and so should you. Here’s a simple guide to follow the next time you have a medical concern that needs attention quickly.
Primary Care Doctor – available during regular office hours. Your doctor works to ensure you are healthy through preventive care, or when you have a medical problem or concern.
Cost – easy copay. A minimal charge on medicare plans.
Urgent Care Clinic – a walk-in clinic where appointments are not necessary (most have Saturday hours). Urgent Care Clinics are set up to help with an illness or injury that does not appear to be life-threatening, but also cannot wait until regular doctor office hours. *Some examples are accidents and falls, breathing difficulties, x-rays, eye irritation, flu, diarrhea or dehydration, severe sore throat and fractures, skin rashes, and urinary tract infections.
Cost – higher than at doctor’s but much less than the emergency room.
The Emergency Room – there to save lives. ERs treat the critically ill and injured first. Many visits to the emergency room are not true emergencies. Patients seeking treatment for minor illnesses wait longer to be seen by a doctor. Some examples of medical emergencies are chest pain with sweating, shortness of breath, radiating pain that moves to the arm or neck, feeling that your heart beats irregularly, severe bleeding, broken bones, burns.
Cost – high copays, high stress, non-emergencies are time consuming.