Walk in medical clinics provide an appealing alternative to the emergency room (ER) for when you need to seek immediate medical attention. It is always recommended to go to the ER for life-threatening injuries, but for everything else urgent care centers provide virtually the same services for considerably less than what you would pay in an ER. Nearly 95% of walk in health clinics have at least one physician on staff, and with 9,000 or so urgent care clinics in the country, going to these clinics is a popular option for people when they get into an unpleasant situation (to say the very least).
What are some of the benefits of going to a walk in clinic? Well, for starters, it’s considerably cheaper than ER care. For the same treatment and diagnosis, a patient can save anywhere from $228 to $583 by going to an urgent care unit. Many clinics have special payment plans for the underinsured as well as for people with no health insurance. Secondly, walk in medical centers have nearly the same equipment and treatment options as ERs. Seventy percent of urgent care clinics, for example, have intravenous (IV) fluids in stock, something that is definitely advantageous for people in need of vital fluids. In addition, about half of these centers have pre-packaged pharmaceutical drugs, which saves the patient a trip (or several) to pharmacies; this is known as “point-of-care” dispensing.
Another advantage of urgent care centers is that they have short waiting times — or at least shorter than the ER’s! About 69% of walk in medical clinics have an average waiting time of 20 minutes or less. About 28% have a time between 21 and 40 minutes and only 3% have a time longer than 40 minutes. Nobody wants to stay in the hospital longer than they have to, so waiting times are often a selling point for patients.
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