What do you do when you are vacationing and a sudden medical emergency arises? For that matter, even if you are at home and someone becomes violently ill or is injured, your first thought may be to call 911 or go immediately to the closes hospital emergency room. If the illness or injury is truly life-threatening, you are on the right track.
But what if the minor emergency involves chills and fever, or a child falling off the backyard jungle gym appears to have a sprain, and you just want to make sure there are no broken bones involved? Try calling your local personal physician (if its during office hours), and you will likely be told that the earliest appointment available is next week, or even later. If you insist on being seen immediately, the receptionist will likely refer to you to option A above the hospital emergency room.
So you go to the emergency room, and submit to the system that is really equipped for full blow, ambulance-arriving emergencies, like youve seen on TV. You feel out of place, and a little embarrassed about tying up resources really designed for much more serious situations than yours. Have no worries! They will simply charge you or your insurance carrier the same as if you were arriving with a huge emergency, and never blink an eye. A typical emergency room visit will cost you (or your insurance company, or the taxpayers) a minimum of $3000 to $5000, no matter how simple the procedure.
What is the alternative? Take a look around, and you will probably come across the hottest trend in cutting edge care for just such eventualities as yours. Stand-alone immediate care walk-in facilities requiring no appointment seem to be cropping up everywhere. One such clinic is Gulf Coast Immediate Care, Inc., located at 345 Miracle Strip Parkway SW, in Fort Walton Beach. Founded by Dr. Robert Siegel over 25 years ago, it was among the first to recognize this developing trend in health care. Patients here are welcomed during the hours of 7:30 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday, and from 9:00 am to noon on Saturday for a variety of services, including minor emergencies. The facility accepts most medical insurance plans, including Medicare and Tricare, as well as uninsured patients on a first-come basis. Credit cards are accepted for payment, making the process of getting appropriate treatments convenient and easy. Because the staff at Gulf Coast Immediate care includes nurse practitioners to assist Dr. Siegel, and low overhead, the cost for treatment is usually a fraction of the equivalent services if provided by a typical hospital emergency room. A typical x-ray evaluation of a childs play injury to determine if bone breakage is involved, can run as little as $300 to $500.
Some patients choose to use this facility for their regular scheduled appointments, but most are coming in for immunizations, employment-required drug and alcohol screening, school sports physicals or minor emergencies. Other services include daycare physicals, DOT physicals, evaluation of workers comp injuries, and auto-accident injury evaluation and after care. The motto of Gulf Coast Immediate Care is See someone who can see you. The average wait time for routine care is 30 minutes or less. When then clinic is busy, and for non-emergency patients, the clinic offers discounts at the nearby Waffle House and IHop restaurants, so families can spend the wait time off-site when necessary.
Because Gulf Coast has on-site labs and x-ray facilities, evaluation and treatment take place in minimal time, which also increases convenience and decreases total cost of treatment. The Saturday hours allow people who absolutely cannot take time off from work to handle routine medical services.
With the current emphasis on reducing overall medical expenses, and the concern about lack of insurance for increasing numbers of people, there need to be alternatives to high-cost hospital emergency rooms for routine care or minor emergencies. Walk-in clinics such as Gulf Coast Immediate Care fill this need, and will likely become more prevalent, regardless of whether the Affordable Care Act remains in force or not after the upcoming elections.
It may be that medical services in the United States need to return to a system resembling more what existed prior to World War II. Most people then had no medical insurance, but went to their doctor on a pay-as-you go basis as required. Those who had insurance only carried it for major, catastrophic illnesses, massive trauma emergencies or long-term care.
Look into immediate care facilities in your area. They may be just what the doctor ordered.