Urgent care clinics handle about 89 million visits every year. That’s more than 29% of all annual primary care visits! Before you visit an urgent care clinic in your area, however, it’s important to choose the best fit for your unique needs.
For example, does the urgent care clinic near you take your insurance? What documents should you bring with you?
How much will it cost?
These are only a few of the questions you should ask before visiting a clinic. By asking the 10 questions we’ve listed below, you can make an informed choice before your next appointment. Gather the information you need by asking these 10 questions today!
1. Are You Accredited?
Learning as much as you can about an urgent care clinic can give you peace of mind regarding your search. It helps to complete this research before the next time you need medical care. That way, you know exactly where to go in case of an emergency.
First, take the time to confirm that they’re accredited. You can visit the Urgent Care Association of America website to confirm the clinic is a member.
In order to receive certification, a clinic has to meet certain requirements.
For example, they have to offer laboratory and X-ray services, extended hours, and have a medical director on staff. To receive a higher level of certification, clinics have to complete an on-site. During the visit, the clinic is reviewed with the highest level of scrutiny to ensure they offer top-level services.
Choosing an accredited clinic will ensure they meet the highest quality and safety levels.
Does the clinic follow proper infection control practices? You can call to ask if you can’t find the information online.
Otherwise, see if the urgent care location has received accreditation from the Joint Commission.
Finding a clinic that’s accredited indicates they offer the gold standard of care. However, not all clinics are accredited. Many clinics choose to earn their accreditation if it’s required by health insurance payers.
2. Do I Need to Make an Appointment?
Many clinics are walk-in centers. In other words, you don’t need to make an appointment in order to see a doctor.
However, some clinics are so busy that they require patients to make appointments beforehand. Otherwise, you could find yourself waiting anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour.
It doesn’t hurt to call ahead! As you research different clinics, make a note of which ones require appointments. Making an appointment ahead of time could help you reserve a time slot and reduce your wait time.
Some clinics don’t provide the option to schedule an appointment while others allow you to check-in online. Before your appointment, make sure to explore their website. You can learn more about the clinic’s unique process.
Preparing yourself ahead of time can ensure you see a doctor as soon as possible.
Otherwise, make sure to check the location’s hours. Some clinics are open 13 hours a day. Some are offering specified hours in response to COVID-19.
Instead of wasting time making a drive, confirm the clinic’s hours before walking in for an appointment.
You never know when a clinic is having a busy day. You can sometimes check online to determine a clinic’s current wait time. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait for your turn.
Ask about the clinic’s wait time beforehand to set realistic expectations about when you’ll see a healthcare provider.
3. What is My Copay for a Visit?
Nearly one in four Americans skip receiving medical care because of the cost. Before setting an appointment or walking in, it’s important to consider urgent care costs. can you afford their services?
Sometimes, insurance is only one of the factors that will determine how much you’ll pay.
Double-check to confirm you’re visiting an urgent care clinic and not a free-standing ER. Making this mistake could increase your costs. Visiting a clinic instead of an emergency room could help you save money.
Ask the urgent care clinic if they offer on-site pharmacy services. An on-site pharmacy could offer prescriptions at reasonable prices to help you cut costs.
Your insurance card should indicate how much your copay is for urgent care. Some plans will charge you a higher copay for urgent care compared to a doctor’s visit. However, the cost is likely still lower than an ER visit.
Make sure to double-check your copay ahead of time. That way, you can avoid stress and confusion regarding your medical bills down the road.
4. What Types of Insurance Do You Accept?
Before requesting treatment, confirm what types of insurance the clinic accepts. Otherwise, you might find a surprisingly high medical bill in your mailbox at the end of the month.
Some plans will only allow you to visit in-network clinics. Make sure to ask your insurance company for a list of eligible centers before choosing a clinic for treatment. You can also check the urgent care clinic’s or your insurance company’s website.
Most clinics accept government plans (Medicare and Medicaid) and major insurance plans. It helps to double-check before an appointment.
5. What Should I Bring With Me?
An urgent care clinic won’t have a record of your full medical history. If you want the speed up the process and receive the best possible care, it helps to plan ahead. Try to bring the medical documents you’ll need for your appointment.
That can include your health insurance information and a list of the medications you’re currently taking. Did you receive a medical diagnosis recently or request X-rays? Take those with you, too.
Make sure to bring all of your primary doctor’s contact information as well. If you have a child, you’ll need to bring a parental authorization form.
Otherwise, don’t forget your picture ID. If this is your first time visiting the clinic, you’ll need to verify your identity. You’ll also need a form of payment.
Planning ahead will help ensure everything runs smoothly before your appointment.
6. When is the Best Time to Arrive?
Don’t forget to check the clinic’s current operating hours. Otherwise, call ahead and ask when they’re busiest throughout the week. Some locations might notice an influx of appointments during lunch or on the weekends.
For example, a clinic that’s located near an office park might book a lot of morning appointments. Some clinics are open during holidays when doctor’s offices are normally closed.
If you can determine the clinic’s busiest days and times, you plan your visit accordingly. Then, you can arrive during the clinic’s slower periods. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait before a healthcare provider can see you.
Don’t forget to check the clinic’s website to see if they post current weight times online!
7. Will I See a Doctor?
It’s important to note that you won’t always see a doctor if you visit an urgent care clinic. Instead, you might meet a different healthcare provider.
Ask the clinic what type of healthcare providers they have on staff. For example, you might speak with:
- X-ray technicians
- Medical assistants
- Physician assistants (PAs)
- Nurse practitioners (NPs)
Each healthcare provider will have the knowledge, experience, and expertise to provide you with care. However, the level of care and qualifications might differ.
An urgent care center might have a physician on staff. If that physician is busy during your appointment, however, you might speak with an NP instead.
If you’re worried or want to prioritize talking to doctors over NPs and PAs, call ahead. Ask the clinic if you can request to see a doctor during your appointment.
Remember, every clinic is different. A clinic might have PAs and NPs who can diagnose and prescribe your treatment instead.
8. What Types of Treatment Do You Offer?
Did you break a bone or sustain car-crash injuries? About 40 million accidents occur every year that require emergency room visits. Before visiting an emergency room, however, take the time to consider your injuries.
What types of treatment do you need? You could save money by visiting an urgent care clinic instead of an emergency room.
Make sure to look for a clinic that suits your medical needs. In some cases, you’ll need to look for a facility that specializes in the type of care you need at the moment.
For example, you might want to look for a clinic that offers pediatric care. Other clinics specialize in women’s health. Instead of visiting the clinic closest to you, make sure you choose one that suits your needs.
9. Who Should I Follow Up With?
Ask the healthcare provider if you should follow up with them or your primary care physician. In order to receive complete care, it’s important to follow up. Otherwise, you might not spot a problem until you’re in pain.
Ask what you should do if your symptoms get worse, too. That way, you know which symptoms to keep an eye out for and how to respond accordingly.
10. Will You Send My Records to My PCP?
Remember, continuity of care is important. Ask the clinic if they will send a copy of your medical records to your primary care physician. You can also ask for a hard and electronic copy for your own records.
You’ll likely need to sign a waiver to allow the clinic to share your medical information with another healthcare provider.
Find an Urgent Care Clinic Near You: 10 Questions to Ask During Your Search
Don’t wait to start your search. With these tips, you can find an urgent care clinic that suits your needs. Receive the best possible care by asking these questions today!
Ready to discover top-notch care? Make an appointment at our clinic today!