Should You Go to an Urgent Care for Physicals
It’s not always a clear-cut decision. Of course, urgent care facilities are there to provide immediate medical attention and are incredibly useful when facing an unexpected injury or illness. But if your doctor has already given you a clean bill of health, it may be best to skip it. Why waste money on an additional doctor’s visit when your physician already took care of everything? Your insurance company likely isn’t going to reimburse you for these extra costs either (as they’re typically billed as out-of-network). Bottom line: Consider going in only if your primary care physician suggests it or if something is truly wrong.
First, be sure to determine whether or not you actually need an urgent care. Depending on your insurance coverage, visiting an urgent care may be more expensive than going to a primary-care physician or walk-in clinic. While there are instances where a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner in an urgent care center can diagnose and treat your illness or injury, check with your primary-care doctor before assuming that visiting an urgent care is your best option. And finally, if it’s not urgent, but it’s still necessary to see a physician — such as when a child has run-of-the-mill flu symptoms — call ahead to find out whether doctors take new patients at that practice.
If your primary care physician has given you a physical and all your tests are negative, should you go to an urgent care facility for a physical exam? It depends. If your plan is to complete a physical once in each clinic, ask yourself these questions: Are there any red flags from my previous visit that I need addressed by a different doctor or nurse practitioner at urgent care clinic (e.g., a significant change in my blood pressure)? Did I want to add on any tests at urgent care (e.g., an ultrasound) that would not be available at my regular doctor’s office (i.e., basic lab tests only offered at urgent care clinics)? Do I have enough symptoms that could indicate something serious to go along with it?