If you can't get a same-day appointment with your doctor, urgent care centers are a good back-up option for issues that just can't wait. Their aim is to treat patients quickly and efficiently. Problems like a cut finger, sprained ankle or severe cough are good reasons to visit urgent care.
In North Carolina alone, there are more than 250 dedicated urgent care clinics (such as FastMed™ Urgent Care). Most are open seven days a week and offer extended hours, including weekends and evenings. Some areas even have around-the-clock urgent care options.
Good choice for:
- Preventive care
- Minor health issues
- Moderate health issues
What to expect
Typically, you'll wait 30 minutes or less to see a nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or doctor at an urgent care center—and spend 1 hour or less in total for a visit.5 That's longer than the average visit to your doctor, but still much better than a trip to the ER.
The same is true of costs. The average Blue Cross NC member will pay $62 for an urgent care visit.4 That's more than the copayment or coinsurance you'll pay for a doctor visit under most health plans. Yet it's quite a deal compared to the emergency room, where the average member will pay about 10 times that amount!4
Convenience care centers or retail clinics
For minor health issues, convenience care centers are another back-up option. These are walk-in clinics with extended hours, where you can get basic care from a nurse practitioner. Some are even housed within retail stores. They can treat common illnesses like sinus infections, colds, flu, allergies, urinary tract infections or sore throats.
As the name implies, these clinics are convenient. Because the health problems are minor, a typical visit takes just 15 to 20 minutes.7 And the average Blue Cross NC member cost is only $24.4
NOTE: If you do visit an urgent care or convenience care center, let your doctor know about it. That way, your medical record can be updated and stay accurate.