The U.S. healthcare system is currently going through quite a few changes, and although the end goal is to make healthcare more accessible and affordable for all Americans, right now it seems like the exact opposite has occurred. Many people simply can’t afford health insurance and therefore never see regular family care physicians for health concerns; at the same time, even though more people are visiting hospital emergency rooms as a result, dozens of hospitals and ERs across the country have closed due to their own financial troubles.
This trend has resulted in more urgent care facilities springing up everywhere — not just domestically, but in plenty of other countries as well. The walk in health clinic trend actually began back in the 1970s, although it wasn’t until recent years that medical walk in clinics became such an integral part of family heath care.
The main benefit of going to one of these walk in clinics is two-fold: you can receive medical care much faster than if you went to an ER, often without making an appointment in advance, and you end up paying much less than what the typical ER bill costs.
Another important factor is convenience: According to the most recent data, there are an estimated 9,300 urgent care facilities in the U.S. alone, and there are about 20,000 physicians who currently provide medical care at an urgent care clinic. No matter where you are in the U.S. (and in many other countries as well), you’ll be able to find a walk in health clinic and receive treatment immediately, even if you’ve never been there before and even if you don’t have insurance.
And finally, it’s important to note that many neighborhood health clinics have turned into specialized facilities that can offer advanced medical care; many clinics provide services specifically for women, while others employ more pediatric doctors than regular family physicians. Additionally, most urgent care facilities offer a variety of services beyond just emergency care, such as lab work and STD testing, for which patients can schedule appointments in advance and receive care when they want it.
The average urgent care center certainly can’t replace regular doctors’ offices and hospital ERs, but it’s clear that these facilities are becoming more important than ever before.