When Should I Go to the Urgent Care?

When Should I Go to the Urgent Care?

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.

Related: Care Continuum: Where to Go When Your Sick or Injured [INFOGRAPHIC]

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.

Related: Five Ways to be a Better Patient at an Urgent Care

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 or service like Urgent Care Locations. 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.

Related: The Details About Medicare and Urgent Care

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.