How to Find Medical Care in an Unfamiliar Area
While there is really no good time for a medical situation to arise, one of the worst times to experience this type of problem is when you are in an unfamiliar area. Away from your local doctors, medical centers and hospitals, it can be difficult to know where to seek help, especially if you or a loved one needs urgent help. Fortunately, due to the popularity of smartphones and other medical devices, you likely have a way to find urgent care centers and other resources to treat your situation. Read on to learn how you can find the medical care you need, even if you are away from home.
First, Consider the Medical Problem You Are Facing
Is the condition you are facing something relatively minor, such as a sudden flu, asthma attack, or laceration? Or is the problem something potentially life-threatening, such as a cardiac event? If you fall into the former category, you should find urgent care centers nearby. However, if it is the latter, you should find the closest hospital offering emergency room care.
Second, Scrutinize the Distance
If you are looking for an urgent care clinic, this factor may be somewhat negotiable. If you will be transporting yourself to the center yourself, think about how you will be able to reach your destination, whether that means driving, taking public transportation or even hailing a taxi. Likewise, if you are transporting an acquaintance or loved one, think about how long they will be able to wait for treatment and how they will be able to travel. Some urgent care facilities might be a better choice than others if they have medical equipment you may need, such as an X-ray machine, or more convenient hours. If you are in need of serious medical attention, however, it is likely best to head to the closest hospital. Certain medical situations may also require an ambulance to ensure that the patient will be transported to their destination safely.
Third, Think About Your Insurance
Under the Affordable Care Act, hospitals are generally required to provide emergency room care and other basic services even to out-of-network insurance holders. While there are a few exceptions to this rule, this usually means that your insurance plan will provide coverage the same way to an unfamiliar hospital as one down the street. Urgent care centers, however, may not except your insurance plan, especially if you are in a different state. You can look around to try to find urgent care centers that will make an exception, but don’t worry if you are unsuccessful: urgent care clinics are famously affordable and usually do not require insurance to provide treatment.
Fourth, Contemplate Care
In an emergency or a situation where you need immediate care, your best bet is usually to head to the closest hospital or urgent care center for treatment. However, if you are experiencing a problem that is part of your medical history, it may be best to seek out specialized care: look for a hospital in the area that specializes in your disorder if possible. Meanwhile, if your problem is relatively minor, don’t be afraid to check for convenience: many urgent care centers now report their waiting times online so that patients can head to the facility that will allow them to be treated as soon as possible.
Have you ever needed medical attention away from home? How did you handle the situation? Tell us about it in the comments below!