You may have noticed that many urgent care centers have cropped up across the country in the last decade. You may have spotted them in freestanding locations, strip malls, or shopping plazas. Regardless, they have become a regular presence in American lives and have made it easier for many to receive the healthcare they so desperately need and deserve.
According to Statista, there were around 6,000 urgent care clinics across the United States in 2013. And, at last count in 2019, that number had risen sharply to over 9,500. This is only set to grow over the next decade and there are a variety of reasons people choose to visit an urgent care clinic. Generally speaking, the most common medical reasons are for muscle and joint strain and sprains, urinary tract infections, and upper respiratory issues such as coughs, congestion, cold, and flu.
The primary personal reasons why people often opt to visit an urgent care facility is due to the convenience of location and appointments, as well as the affordable costs.
Typically, visits to urgent care clinics are more common because people are often traveling and unable to visit their primary care physician.
An Overview of Urgent Care
While you may be aware of their existence, you might not have much experience with visiting urgent care clinics. They bridge the gap between emergency care and primary physicians. They offer care for minor urgent medical issues. They are widely accessible and affordable, which makes them a convenient choice. They got their start back in the 1990s at a time when over 70% of Americans did not have access to primary care physicians during weekends or in the evenings. The majority of urgent care centers do not require appointments and are generally open seven days a week until late.
There is one major differences between an urgent care clinic and a hospital.
They don’t have all of the medical equipment necessary to deal with life-threatening emergencies.
They do have lab equipment for testing, x-ray machines, the facilities necessary to carry out flu shots, and can set broken bones. They accept a wide variety of insurance providers and the cost is far lower than visiting an emergency room or hospital.
Do I Need Insurance?
You do not need to have insurance to visit an urgent care facility. However, they may turn you away if you cannot afford to pay. That being said, many offer payment plans to make treatment easier to obtain. Typically, you’re looking at an out-of-pocket expense of around $150 if you do not carry insurance coverage, though that will depend on what treatment you are seeking. The cost of your visit will depend on why you are there and what type of treatment you receive during your visit. A lot of centers have a list of prices posted so that you have a good idea in advance at the type of cost you will be facing.
Can An Urgent Care Facility Refuse Me Service?
For the most part, you have the right to medical care which includes visiting an urgent care facility. However, there are some reasons which allow an urgent care center to refuse you service.
- If you are under 18 and without a parent or guardian, they can refuse to treat you.
- Likewise, if you are enrolled in an NJ Family Care Program or Medicaid, you will likely be unable to seek treatment at an urgent care clinic unless your insurance coverage is accepted by that clinic.
- They may be able to refuse you service if you owe them for prior treatment and have made no effort to settle your bill.
It’s always best to know what your insurance covers before you visit any medical facility. Moreover, there are freestanding hospital emergency rooms disguised as urgent care centers. Be sure to ask before treatment. Your medical care is very much in your hands, and as a patient, it is up to you to inform yourself of your options. Knowing your rights and being aware of what you’re entitled to will ensure you save time and money in terms of the medical care you receive.