Why is it called the common cold? Perhaps because nearly 1 billion colds are caught every year in the U.S. alone. And it’s not just the cold that’s common. Close to 7 million bones are broken in the states annually, and a significant chunk of the population (between 5 and 20%) come down with the flu each year. So maybe it’s apparent why since the 1970s, urgent care centers have become a well-established institution in the United States, with approximately 7,000 clinics across the country and counting. U.S. patients are taking advantage of walk in clinic hours, with 3 million visits to urgent care centers each week.
Features of Urgent Care
As their name implies, urgent care facilities are usually fast-moving, and in today’s world of immediate gratification, speed matters. But effective treatment is also important. Urgent care centers and walk in clinics succeed in this area as well, staffing professional family practice doctors, registered nurses, and often technicians. These clinics are also open often and during times when other medical offices might be closed. Walk in clinic hours in some facilities can go on as late as 10 P.M. and beyond.
What Does Urgent Care Treat?
Urgent care centers treat a wide range of problems. The most common of these include colds, cuts, minor fractures, sprains, and certain infections. The list goes on. For more serious issues, such as limb-threatening or life-threatening, emergency rooms (ERs) are of course necessary. But before the prominence of urgent care centers, many people would have to take up space in ERs even for minor conditions. Thankfully, urgent care allows more room in ERs for more serious problems.
Urgent Care Cost
If you’re an American citizen and taxpayer the increasing cost of health care will come as no surprise to you. Fortunately, visits to urgent care centers typically won’t break the bank, especially compared to costs for visiting emergency centers. If you’re insured, you can expect a visit to urgent care to cost anywhere between $70-$150. There are, of course, many factors that go into the cost of a visit to urgent care, however, including one’s deductible, the condition itself, the type of treatment needed, the state in which the facility is located, and so on. But overall, a trip to urgent care is cheaper and faster than a trip to an emergency room, and comparable to a visit to one’s primary care provider.