Urgent care facilities offer a great alternative to your primary care physician's office when you can't get a sick appointment, and they also provide a better option than the emergency room for non-emergency injuries and ailments. Whether you have a sore throat and a cough or a sprained ankle, there are many reasons to consider your urgent care center. However, there are a few things you can do to make your visit go smoothly. Here are some things to keep in mind before you head to the urgent care facility.
Know Your Co-Pay
Depending on your insurance plan, you may have to pay a higher co-pay for an urgent care visit than a visit to your doctor's office. The average cost to visit an urgent care center typically runs around $150, but if your co-pay for a sick visit to your doctor is significantly less, you may want to consider waiting until your physician has an opening. Knowing your co-pay for urgent care in advance can help to inform your decision-making process when looking for care. If you aren't sure what your co-pay is, call your health insurance provider for assistance.
Avoid The Rush
People wanting to go to the doctor may try to squeeze in an urgent care visit before work, after work, or on their lunch break. This means that the urgent care facility may be busier during these times, particularly in clinics that do not offer appointment scheduling. Visiting mid-morning or mid-afternoon may result in shorter waiting times. Some facilities post their expected wait times on their websites, so consider checking online before you head out. If you need immediate assistance and can't wait for care, a visit to the emergency room may be your better option.
Remember that other people visiting the urgent care facility are also sick or injured, so take care to protect yourself against illnesses while in the waiting room or exam room. Bring some hand sanitizer to use after opening doors, and avoid reading any communal magazines left in the waiting room to avoid getting germs left behind by another person. If you are bringing a child to urgent care, have him or her pack toys from home to avoid playing with waiting room toys. You may also want to wear an antiviral face mask, which prevents you from catching or spreading germs through your nose and mouth while at the doctor.
Your urgent care facility can be a great option for immediate, non-emergency medical care. Use these tips to prepare for your next visit, and get the help you need with minor injuries or illnesses.