As winter descends upon the United States, this is the time of year when lots of folks end up getting sick whether they want to or not. It’s estimated that the average American gets 2-3 colds a year and that more than 9 million people get the flu each year. For each of those illnesses, the average person goes through a 7-10 period of illness and recovery time. Any way you slice it, that’s a lot of time spent being sick.
So when you get sick, what’s the best plan of action. Depending on the severity of your illness, you could go to the ER or try to get in to see your primary care doctor. But in both cases, you’re likely in for a long wait and a big bill.
So what do you do then? The simple answer is to visit an urgent care clinic. An urgent care clinic is essentially a middle ground between the two options mentioned above. By going to an urgent care clinic, patients can get in to see a doctor much faster, they end up paying much less and they can get treated for a large number of non-life-threatening ailments. More than three million Americans visit urgent care facilities across the United States each week and it’s not hard to see why.
You might be thinking that an urgent care clinic can’t help you with your medical issue. But think again for a second. As it stands, the average urgent care facility can offer treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, dizziness, common sports injuries, sprains, strains, ear infections, colds, the flu and many other illnesses and ailments. As an added bonus, many urgent care facilities are open later than most other doctor’s offices, so if something comes up you can usually find one that’s open.
For non life-threatening injuries and common, easily-treated symptoms and conditions, an urgent care facility can save you time and money. It’s true that the average urgent care clinic has a lot to offer the average patient, but before you travel to one in your area, here are a few pros and cons to consider:
- Pro—Convenience: These days Americans are always on the go. Because they’re always on the go, when it comes to being sick, Americans want medical care that’s convenient and easy. Fortunately, your local urgent care clinic can offer just that: easy, convenient medical care. Urgent cares are typically located in easy-to-find locations and they offer access to treatments like flu shots and Z-packs; two treatments a lot of Americans need this time of year.
- Pro—Cost: Urgent cares offer treatment for an ever-growing variety of illnesses and ailments and they do it at lower rates than you’re likely to find at a hospital. This can be a relief for patients on a budget. There’s also the bonus of price transparency, where patients can look at the cost of different treatments before they commit to anything.
- Con—Potentially higher costs: It’s true that urgent care centers can help a lot of Americans save money. But because they are so convenient, they may end up costing some folks more money over time, especially for Americans who are accident prone or prone to getting sick often. Some Americans may opt to continually seek treatment when they’re sick, rather than trying home remedies and letting an illness run its course.
- Con—Deferral to hospital: One of the worst things you can do when you have a medical issue is to under-diagnose or over-diagnose yourself. If you go to an urgent care seeking treatment for a more severe medical issue, you’re likely going to be referred to the hospital. If you’re sick, don’t panic. Access how sick you are or how much you’re hurting and make the appropriate choice.
If you’re dealing with a life-threatening issue, do what’s best for health and visit the ER. The last thing you want to do is roll the dice on your health in the name of saving a little bit of money or time. But for colds, the flu and other common illnesses, a visit to an urgent care will do a lot of good.