• the Coverage Corner

What’s the Deal with Urgent Care Centers?

hospitalIn case you haven’t noticed, Urgent Care Centers have been popping up in office buildings and strip malls all over the place. There are more than 8,700 urgent-care centers nationwide and the number is expected to continue growing around 5 percent annually.

What is an urgent care center?

These are convenient and potentially less expensive facilities for treating ailments and injuries that need immediate attention but are not life-threatening emergencies. Urgent care centers do not require appointments and they are staffed by physicians and nurses who are able to offer more care and services than most walk-in clinics, but not as many as an emergency room. The centers usually have x-rays and electrocardiograms on-site. Some urgent care centers offer lab services, as well.

What are some examples of ailments treated at urgent care facilities?

The list is expansive and includes basically anything that is not immediately threatening your life: sprains, broken bones, muscle spasms, lacerations, sore throat, bronchitis, urinary tract infections, abscesses and many more. Unlike emergency rooms, urgent care centers cannot admit patients who need life-saving interventions immediately.

Why are urgent care centers growing so rapidly?

They are an excellent alternative to having to wait for hours on end in an emergency room to receive treatment. They also are an attractive option if you do not want to make a doctor appointment weeks in advance for some minor issue.

Are urgent care centers affiliated with hospitals?

Only in some cases. The majority are independent or part of a chain of urgent care centers.

Do urgent care centers accept health insurance?

Urgent care centers accept a wide variety of health insurance. Always check with your health insurance provider first, of course. But also check to see how much coverage your insurance will provide for visits to urgent care centers. If a health insurance plan provides less coverage for urgent care centers then visiting a doctor or emergency room, it may not be the best option.

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