Health issues often crop up when you least expect it, and very few of them can simply be ignored. As a result, the need for medical services can become imperative to your well-being, both in the short term and the long term depending on the nature of the problem. Planning for these eventualities in advance will cut down on the amount of time you spend deciding where to go to find treatment and help you start building a relationship with your preferred provider.
The Real Purpose of Emergency Rooms
Whether you're uninsured or underinsured, the only reason to seek out medical care at a hospital emergency room is in the event of a legitimate medical emergency, such as injury or major illness. Emergency rooms often treat patients without demanding payment upfront, or proof of insurance, but they also carry some of the highest costs in the healthcare industry. If you can physically wait until another provider is available it's almost always desirable to do so.
Understanding Urgent Cares
Characterized by their acceptance of walk-in patients, urgent care facilities offer an alternative to emergency rooms. Their services normally cost less, and don't require that you make an appointment in advance in order to receive care. It's never a bad idea to call ahead though, so you can find out what your visit will cost, how long the wait time is for walk-in patients, and whether or not they can provide the care you need. You can also find out about billing policies, and whether or not they require payment in full at the time of the visit.
Find a General Practice
Urgent care facilities and emergency rooms both fill an important role in the healthcare industry, but they're no substitute for a regular doctor. Building a relationship with a general practitioner will ensure that more of your medical records are on file in a single location, a fact which will help your regular doctor to more accurately build a diagnosis of any new symptoms. Not only will this give you the comfort of a familiar face, but it will ensure that pre-existing conditions and medications are already on file with the people providing your care.
If you can't wait for an appointment then by all means seek out an urgent care in your area for more immediate service. If your medical issue simply can't wait then go to an ER rather than wasting time in an office. Whenever possible though, call your doctor and make plans to go in for a visit at their first available appointment. Stick to these guidelines and you'll get better care, and a smaller bill. To learn more, visit an urgent care center like Premier Urgent Care Centers of California, Inc.