Urgent Care is a fast growing segment of the healthcare system, and has some advantages over visiting an ER. An urgent care center is usually far less crowded, and less expensive. However, it cannot replace the emergency room for life or limb threatening injuries.
Some common reasons for a visit to an urgent care center are for vaccinations, fractures, lacerations, eye problems, burns and bites. These facilities also provide physicals for work or school, and provide occupational medicine such as dealing with workplace injuries.
An emergency room is generally open 24 hours a day, whereas an urgent care can set their own hours, often something like 7am to 11pm, though there are 24 hour urgent care facilities as well. Although an urgent care center charges less, they are not required to provide care to anyone regardless of their ability to pay, as some ERs are.
Most insurance plans cover both an ER and an urgent care visit, often with significant savings for choosing an urgent care. Check with your insurance and see how you can make the most of your time and money while getting the care you need.
If you need to call an Urgent Care Center in your area, check out MyLocally.