Urgent Care vs. Your Primary Physician
Determining whether urgent care can serve as primary care is a common inquiry in the healthcare field. Urgent care facilities and primary care facilities each have their own set of benefits and advantages – but can one truly replace the other? Both of these medical service providers serve complementary but distinct roles when it comes to maintaining your overall health.
The determining factors of when to go to urgent care versus your doctor are based on your distinct and immediate health care needs and concerns. We shall explore the unique attributes of both urgent care clinics and primary care centers and answer the frequently asked question “can urgent care be primary care?”.
The Benefits of Primary Care
Your primary care physician or, PCP for short, plays an important and longstanding role in your health. PCP’s typically have a longstanding relationship with their patients. They are well versed in their patient’s medical history and as such, are quite familiar with the patient’s past ailments and treatments and more intuned to their specific medical needs.
Primary care physicians have broad medical knowledge enabling them to have a holistic view of the patient’s medical well-being. These doctors perform routine check-ups and other forms of preventative medicine in addition to treating chronic illnesses such as diabetes or high blood pressure. If you are looking to seek treatment for a chronic condition or illness, it is recommended that you visit your primary care physician rather than an urgent care facility.
The Benefits of Urgent Care
Urgent care is a great option when there is a time-sensitive medical issue that occurs outside of a primary care physician’s operating hours and cannot wait days for an appointment. These facilities can provide many of the same services as any primary clinic such as writing prescriptions, diagnosing illness, or administering diagnostic tests. These walk-in friendly facilities can give urgent, non-life-threatening medical attention without the expensive cost of the ER or the long wait times. Some common reasons where patients would sooner go to urgent care rather than their primary doctors are:
- Renewing prescriptions
- Strep throat tests
- STD testing
Urgent care facilities typically have the same staff as primary care; licensed general practitioners, nurses, and supporting team. However, the main aspect where urgent care differs (and excels) is its flexibility and ability to attend to patients much more quickly than at a doctor’s office. Patients can stop by an urgent care clinic at a moment’s notice – appointments are never necessary. Urgent care clinics purposefully have extended hours of operation and – some urgent care clinics are even open 24/7 – making them both highly accessible and ultra-convenient.
Is Urgent Care More Expensive than Primary Care?
While time is usually the most significant factor in determining whether to go to urgent care or primary care, for others, the cost can be an intimidating circumstance that makes one shy away from one of the other. Primary care physicians have a reputation for being more affordable due to their ties with insurance providers and healthcare network. However, many urgent care facilities accept insurance and offer competitive rates for those without coverage.
All in all, no, urgent care clinics cannot replace your primary care providers. Urgent care facilities such as the ones of the UrgentMED Network are intended to supplement your medical treatment and provide a convenient option for when your primary care physician isn’t available. The urgent care clinics within the UrgentMED Network accept over 15 private insurance providers as well as Medicaid. Check out the full list of accepted insurance here. With convenient hours and 14 Southern California locations, find the nearest UrgentMED clinic near you and fast track your way to feeling healthy.