Three Levels of Healthcare Which to Choose

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Colds. Coughs. Allergies. Broken bones. Splints. Bronchitis. The flu. Strep throat. Sexually transmitted diseases. High blood pressure. High cholesterol. Diabetes. Type I and type II. Infections. Lacerations. Edema. Heart palpitations. Pneumonia. These are common or not so common illnesses and injuries. What should you do when one occurs?

One of the greatest challenges faced by patients today is not necessarily their illness; it is deciding the severity of the illness and which location to go to. The options are fairly simply, though they can get complicated depending on the illness. For instance, there is the standard physician. The family doctor. Then urgent care. Then the ER.

Although insurance may at times restrict your movement, especially from a doctor to a specialist in the term of HMO insurance plans, you, as the patient, have a responsibility towards your health to choose the best possible health treatment program for you, which can mean many things.

The first option is a primary care physician. In other terms, that is a family doctor. The family doctor may have a private practice to himself or herself, operating solely with a nurse and a staff, or may be part of a larger practice in which doctors rotate around. One is certainly assigned to you, but there are some to cover if one doctor is unavailable.

The primary care physician generally handles routine issues, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, small ailments like broken bones and ankle sprains, as well as common illnesses such as influenza and bronchitis. Unfortunately, the challenge with the primary physician is availability.

Some physicians aren’t available all hours of all days of the week. Generally, you can count on them being available during regular business hours during the week, though some, especially in a smaller private practice, may be available less. Often, it takes time to see a doctor. Appointments generally can’t be scheduled same day.

The second option, and its name gives it the coverage necessary for all, is the urgent care center. Unlike the primary care physician, where a scheduled appointment might take a couple of days, the urgent care center receives walk-in patients, meaning you just have to walk through the doors to see a doctor.

Urgent care centers have that advantage; you’re able to be seen immediately. Most have a doctor or physician present at all times, while many are also open earlier and later than most doctor’s offices. They have a great varied amount of equipment that is present in hospitals but not in the doctor’s office. This includes x-ray equipment.

The hospital emergency room is the third option for patients whose symptoms have become severe and they need help immediately from the most qualified professionals in a location where there is the most up to date equipment and the treatment options are diverse. For many, the emergency room is actually not the last resort.

Many of the conditions, some studies suggest, that are treated in an emergency room can actually be treated in urgent care or in a primary care office. This is important, as hospitals tend to be costlier to urgent care and primary care physicians. The deductibles tend to be higher in emergency rooms.

Consider these statistics:

  • The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey reports that the average ER visitor pays total costs of $1,318 and a mean cost of $615.
  • Between 2003 and 2009, the mean wait time in ERs when up by a quarter, from 46.5 minutes to 58.1 minutes.
  • According to current data, the U.S. needs about 52,000 more primary care physicians by 2025 to meet our healthcare needs.

It is possible to find out which you need by a quick search on Google. Searching for primary care physician reviews, neighborhood health clinic, urgent care facilities, same day STD testing, and family health clinic can give you answers that you may need to complete your search.

One thing to be cognizant of is the cost of testing. For instance, the cost of STD testing can be anywhere from a small amount to over $100. It depends a great deal on the testing site. The cost of STD testing at free STD testing centers is different from the cost of STD testing at a standard clinic.

The cost of STD testing is a variable, like all services.

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