What Is Urgent Care and Why You Should Consider It
If you hurt yourself or suddenly fall ill, your first instinct might be to schedule an appointment with your doctor. In many cases, however, the condition requires immediate care and your doctor’s office may be closed. In times like this, consider going to an urgent care clinic.
Urgent care has become a lifeline for people seeking medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic and onward due to their convenience and positioning as an alternative to the emergency room. Read along as we break down all things urgent care, and explain why urgent care clinics are the best place to take care of all your non-life threatening medical emergencies, swiftly.
What is urgent care?
Urgent care is a type of medical service. Urgent care centers are a type of walk-in clinic focused on the delivery of urgent ambulatory care in a dedicated medical facility outside of a traditional emergency department located within a hospital. Urgent Care Medicine is the provision of immediate medical service offering outpatient care for the treatment of acute and chronic illness and injury. According to the Urgent Care Association, there are over 9,000 urgent care clinics in the U.S. providing healthcare to about 89 million patients every year.
Urgent care clinics are set up to provide medical care for injuries, sicknesses, and ailments that require immediate attention, but are not life-threatening. Sometimes you need medical care more quickly than your primary care physician can provide, but it’s not considered a life-threatening emergency. That cut finger, for example, shouldn’t wait until the next day, but it’s not necessarily a cause for a trip to the emergency room. Urgent care bridges the gap between one’s primary care physician and the emergency room (ER).
Urgent care is not meant to replace the primary care physician. Rather, it provides an option when your regular physician is not in the office (i.e., evenings and weekends) or is unable to offer you a timely appointment. Urgent care also offers a faster alternative for sudden health conditions and mild to moderate injuries that need to be treated promptly but do not pose a threat to your life such as:
- Cough, cold and flu, COVID-19
- Stomach virus, nausea, diarrhea
- strep/sore throat
- Infections (ear, eye, throat, sinus etc)
- Injuries (sprains strains, cuts, bruises, or other accidents)
- Allergic reactions
- Rashes, insect bites, and skin conditions
- Wound care
In most cases, the wait time at an urgent care clinic will be much shorter than at the ER, and you can still get diagnostic services and prescriptions at most urgent care clinics. Some urgent care centers also offer lab tests and screenings for physicals and test results needed swiftly. Some lab tests a person can get at an urgent care center include:
- Blood draws
- Flu & COVID-19 testing
- STD & HIV testing
- Pregnancy tests
The cost of urgent care is often lower than that of an ER, and they accept patients who don’t have insurance, but can demonstrate their ability to pay at the time of service. In turn, the patient receives affordable health care in less time than going to the ER, while still getting the right type of treatment. The actual cost of an urgent care visit without insurance depends on the provider, however you can expect to pay as little as $100-$150 for comprehensive medical services provided by a physician. Use of medical equipment for diagnosis and treatment and prescription medications may have additional costs, but they are still lower than that of the ER.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires all ACA-compliant health insurance plans to cover emergency services, but some insurers do not classify urgent care in the same benefit class as emergency care. Urgent Care Centers that aren’t owned by hospitals are not bound by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), created by congress in 1986 to ensure public access to emergency services regardless of ability to pay. Therefore if the patient cannot afford to pay, they could get turned away by urgent care.
Often health plans make the following common distinctions between urgent care visits and emergency room visits:
- A plan may define an urgent care need as a medical condition that is not potentially life-threatening and doesn’t require immediate medical attention but still requires care within 24 hours.
- A plan may apply different (and often lower) copayment to urgent care center visits than the plan applies to emergency room visits. For example, you may have to pay the same or similar copay for an urgent care center visit as you pay for a doctor visit.
- To receive urgent care benefits, the insured may need to choose an urgent care center that participates in their health insurance plan if they are in a health maintenance organization (HMO), and want urgent care where they live. Check with the insurer or the urgent care center before going.
Why you should choose Swift:
At Swift Urgent Care, we are dedicated to providing our patients with the highest quality care in a welcoming and comfortable environment. Our providers are committed to ensuring that each patient receives the care they need to get better, faster. They are passionate about their work and are committed to providing compassionate and personalized care to each patient. That’s why we take walk-in patients and never require you to book an appointment to be seen by a provider. Our goal is to see you quickly, and get you on the road to feeling better again, fast.
Swift offers care for all sudden health conditions and mild to moderate injuries listed previously as well as telehealth services to patients who are too ill or weak to walk in or prefer the convenience of receiving medical care in the comfort of their own home. This is also a great choice for those that do not reside in the King county area of Brooklyn, NY, but still want to experience the amazing service provided by our NPs, RNs, MAs, and other health paraprofessionals.
Patients can easily schedule a virtual visit through the Swift Urgent Care website and receive top-notch care from highly trained medical professionals. Telehealth offers increased access to healthcare services, reduced travel time and costs, and improved patient outcomes while allowing patients to receive medical care in a safe and comfortable environment. For all visits we accept the following insurance:
- 1199 Local Benefit Fund
- Emblem Health
- Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield
- Fidelis Care
- HealthFirst – New York and New Jersey
- Humana Care Plan
We know that not everyone in our community has insurance. That’s why we work hard to keep our out-of-pocket fees as low as possible. Our out-of-pocket exam fee is only $150–half that of the leading urgent care in the New York area.The amount that you owe out-of-pocket for your copay will vary depending on your insurance plan, the type of services provided, and other factors.
As healthcare costs continue to rise, urgent care centers provide relief from skyrocketing costs and a quicker, more available alternative to doctor’s offices. It is becoming increasingly easy to find an urgent care center near you and the benefits are plentiful enough for everyone to take advantage of this valuable service. By treating patients who would otherwise be forced to rely on emergency room visits, urgent care facilities are demonstrating how we can address our healthcare concerns through innovation. They’re low cost, they have extended hours, and they offer immediate treatment that saves lives. For any and all urgent care needs, or for more information, visit swiftcareus.com.
DISCLAIMER: THIS BLOG DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen.