Preventive Care Services: Take Charge of Your Well-being
Not every urgent issue is an emergency, but some things just can’t wait until your family doctor can see you. With this blog, you’ll learn about 3 paths available for those situations where you need to be seen now, but don’t exactly require an ambulance ride.
Being knowledgeable about your options may make a big difference. We recognize that controlling health care costs for individuals is a complex matter. We provide ways to control your costs and find care at the right place and the at the right time on our BCBSMT website.
Many plans covered by BCBSMT include our 24/7 Nurseline and virtual visits as an option. You can give the details of the problem, and they will tell you where to go, or can call in a prescription if needed. If they think you need to go to the emergency room, they can call ahead to give the emergency staff instructions on what to do when you arrive.
And remember – for routine care, visit your doctor in your plans network. HMO members, be sure to see your Primary Care Physician.
Path 1: Call Your Doctor If you have a family doctor or pediatrician, call first. Many will try to squeeze you in for a same-day appointment for urgent needs. Even if it is after hours, many doctors’ offices have an after-hours number to call that is answered by a nurse or doctor on call. They may help determine whether or not you need to visit the emergency room or if you need a prescription called in.
Path 2: Retail Health or Convenient Care Clinic So where do you go to have a minor medical problem looked at after hours by a medical professional? Walk-in clinics may be a wise choice for diagnosing everyday illnesses such as athlete’s foot or minor back pain. And retail health clinics even provide some immunizations and physicals. In addition to providing convenient locations, they provide retail hours with some locations providing 24-hour prescription services. Costs are generally lower than an urgent care center or an ER, so it’s really a great choice when you cannot get in to see your doctor. And, wait times are less than ER facilities, usually about an hour. Use Provider Finder to see if there is one near you by selecting "Retail Health Clinics" from the “Provider Type” dropdown.
Path 3: Urgent Care/Comprehensive Care Center It’s a holiday weekend, your doctor is unavailable, and you’re faced with a medical problem needing immediate care. Where do you go when you don’t think it is serious or life-threatening? Urgent care centers or comprehensive care centers may provide care for the days and hours that primary care physicians and retail health centers are closed. They provide easy access to health care when you don’t think your illness or injury does not pose an immediate threat to your health or life. Urgent care centers or comprehensive care centers can provide care for medical conditions that you do not consider an emergency but need attention before you can see your doctor. These centers are staffed by an internal medicine, family practice, pediatric or ER doctor. You typically have lower out-of-pocket costs than an ER, but costs may be higher than visiting your doctor’s office or a retail health clinic. Wait times may be over an hour and some facilities have online and/or telephone check in to reserve your place in line before you get there.
There’s more advice where this came from, so check back often! Call the number on the back of your ID card if you have specific questions on what your BCBSMT health plan covers.
Do you have a story about the 3 paths we’ve discussed today? Share it with us in the comments!
Last Updated: 7/10/2018
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