Can Urgent Care be Primary Care?

can urgent care be primary care

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, and it is important to know when to choose one as opposed to the other.

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 long-standing 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 attuned to their specific medical needs. These are doctors you see on a regular basis and can expect them to have a clear sense of your wellbeing over the long run.

Primary care physicians are usually MDs and 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 that requires more than one doctor visit for care, it is recommended that you visit your primary care physician rather than an urgent care facility.

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The Benefits of Urgent Care

Urgent care is a great option when there is a non-life-threatening but still 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:

Urgent care facilities typically have the same staff as primary care: licensed general practitioners, nurses, and supporting teams, all there to help you in the same ways.  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, unlike most primary care clinics. Urgent care walk-in 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 whenever a medical issue arises.

walk in clinic long beach

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 networks. However, many urgent care facilities accept insurance and offer competitive rates for those without coverage. UrgentMED accepts a wide network of different insurance policies and guarantees affordable rates for individuals or families that are currently uninsured. 

All in all, no, urgent care clinics cannot replace your primary care providers because while they are ideal more immediate medical concerns, primary care is best when medical issues are recurrent and require well-established relations for proper diagnosis and remediation.

Let UrgentMED Help With Your Health

Urgent care facilities such as the one at UrgentMED 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 19 Southern California locations, answering the question “Is there a walk-in clinic near me?” is simple: absolutely. Find the nearest UrgentMED clinic near you and fast track your way to feeling healthy today.