Few things are worse than dealing with an urgent medical problem with no access to care. Visiting the hospital is always an option, but expensive bills and long wait times can be a deterrent. You may also hesitate to access emergency services if you're not facing a life-threatening situation. Luckily, urgent care clinics exist to fill in the gaps. Urgent care services allow people to access same-day care for illnesses and injuries.
These are four tips that can help you access urgent care services with confidence.
1. Make sure the urgent care clinic is the right choice
Before you visit an urgent care clinic, you should first make sure that an urgent care clinic is the right place for you to receive care. If you're experiencing a life-threatening emergency or suspect that you are, it's better to go to the emergency room. However, urgent care clinics can help people treat broken bones, sprains, mild to moderate illnesses, and many infections. When in doubt, you can visit your urgent care clinic's website to get an idea of the medical conditions they treat.
2. Find out if you need to call ahead
Some urgent care clinics allow patients to visit on a walk-in basis. This can be convenient, but walk-in clinics typically require longer wait times. Other urgent care clinics prefer patients to call ahead to schedule a same-day appointment. If you're unsure of the scheduling practices at your local urgent care clinic, it's always best to call before you leave your home to find out if an appointment is required.
3. Have your insurance ready
Urgent care clinics typically accept most forms of insurance. Insurance can drastically reduce the amount of money you owe for your urgent care appointment. It can be hard to remember details about your medical records when you're feeling sick or in pain, so don't forget your ID and insurance card when you leave the house. This will make the billing process as easy as possible and ensure that you don't end up paying more than you need to.
4. Prepare to pay at the clinic
Unlike doctor's offices, which often send patients bills in the mail, urgent care clinics often require payment on the day of service. Many clinics provide a list of services and their prices on their websites to make budgeting for your urgent care appointment easy. Bring cash or a debit or credit card with you to the urgent care center to pay for your medical services after your appointment has concluded.