Avoid Healthcare Sticker Shock
The healthcare market is becoming more consumer-driven and this shift does not come without sticker shock. There is increasingly more change in the way healthcare is delivered, the way insurers process claims and high deductible health plans becoming more common. It’s confusing trying to determine where to go for your specific healthcare needs and prices often come at a shock for the traditional venues of care. The good news is that there are options outside of the traditional primary care office and emergency department for minor issues that are more cost effective with shorter wait times.
It takes on average 24 to 52 days to see a primary care doctor for your first appointment to establish care (Becker’s Hospital Review). It’s not much better for established patients. Although it isn’t usually a good idea to schedule with a primary care provider for a minor injury or illness, issues can often be handled over the phone at no additional cost. Your doctor may also recommend an alternative venue for more immediate care.
Telemedicine is often offered via video conferencing on your smart device. It’s becoming a popular venue of care because it’s immediate care for routine issues like allergies, recurring UTIs, skin rashes and more. Most insurances cover virtual care but it’s also offered at a low cash price, for example, WellNow offers same-day Hale telemedicine visits for only $39. If an issue cannot be resolved via virtual care, like if lab tests or a physical exam are required, there are also convenient clinics such as retail clinics and urgent cares.
Retail clinics offer quick medical care for minor injuries and illnesses in pharmacies, retail stores, supermarkets, and other retail locations. These are convenient venues of care for quick visits that usually don’t require an appointment. CVS Minute Clinic is a well-known retail medical clinic that started in 2000 and has since grown to over 1,100 locations across the U.S. This is a good option for sore throats, lab tests, vaccines and other less-urgent matters (CVS Pharmacy).
Urgent care centers provide care for injuries and illnesses that are not life threatening. It’s sometimes difficult to determine what level of care is required for certain symptoms and injuries. For instance, abdominal pain may not be treatable at a retail medical clinic, but more appropriate for an urgent care setting. However, it’s always a good idea to call ahead and a medical provider will usually be able to tell you if it’s recommended that you go straight to the emergency department.
WellNow is a unique model because it’s a retail clinic that offers urgent care services, wellness services like IV infusion therapies and B12 shots, primary care services like annual physicals and medication refills and telemedicine visits. WellNow also has an on-site pharmacy with commonly prescribed medications for the cost of a copay and a lab for rapid tests like urinalysis and strep A test.
These types of tips and information about different levels of care will be useful in navigating new healthcare delivery models. The first step is to know your options so you’ll be more prepared to get the care you need without the risk of sticker shock.
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