Emergency rooms can be a real pain. You're either sick or injured, it costs a ton, it's stressful and it takes forever to see a doctor. Now there are more options than ever before, but when to use what can get confusing. Jimmy Rhoades and Natasha Bhuyan, MD are here to help with three money-saving E.R. alternatives.
1. Retail Health Clinics
Drug stores RiteAid, Walgreens, CVS and some Target and Wal-Mart locations offer clinical services. Many people don't realize how debilitating the flu can be. These "stop where you shop" setups usually have limited hours and don't have licensed physicians on location. They are effective at dealing with a smaller scope of services, generally speaking.
2. Online Medical Services
Do you really need to go all the way down to wherever you go to the doctor's, just to have a simple question answered? There's a growing roster of web-based medical services, such as MDLive, LiveHealth Online and AmWell. Some charge by the minute and some have flat rates per consultation. You talk to a licensed physician who, depending on the laws in your state, can write you a prescription if needed.
3. Urgent Care Clinics
These can do everything the other services can do, plus they have doctors on staff for the hands-on work. Just remember that for the big stuff the emergency room is still your best bet. Like for, say, head trauma, chest pain with a history of cardio-vascular issues, or if you think you're having a stroke, head directly to the E.R. Those scenarios, it's a time factor. There's a small window for physicians and providers to be effective at treating you.
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