Urgent care provides patients who need quick medical care a convenient alternative to an emergency room. Most urgent care centers aren’t set up to treat a patient for a heart attack or stroke and will send anyone who comes in with symptoms that suggest such a serious event to an emergency room where there are more resources available. For less serious medical issues that are still urgent, an urgent care center is often able to provide the care a patient needs.
Every urgent care center is equipped with a different set of equipment and has a different team of medical providers on its staff. Therefore, what a center is able to treat may vary. In general, an urgent care center is a good place to have the following conditions treated:
Many centers also complete one-off physicals, such as those needed for sports teams or certain jobs, and offer some immunizations, such as the flu shot.
While a primary care physician may provide some of these services, urgent care centers often have extended hours beyond what most doctors' offices keep. Thus, an urgent care center is an especially good option if any of these issues arise after business hours or on the weekend.
Many health insurance policies include coverage for visits to urgent care centers, but the coverage provided may be different from that offered for doctor’s appointments. It may even be different than the coverage provided for emergency room visits. Additionally, a few policies may not cover urgent care visits or may limit coverage to in-network centers.
To find out whether their health insurance provides coverage for urgent care visits, patients should check with their insurance company.