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Urgent Care

What is Urgent Care?

Simply put, urgent care facilities serve as a sort of walk-in clinic to treat mild injuries or illnesses.  Mount Sinai hospital best illustrates when urgent care centers should be used:

“Life-threatening emergencies, such as a heart attack or a serious head injury, require a visit to the Emergency Department (also commonly referred to as the Emergency Room (ER) at hospitals). Urgent Care centers are setup to assist patients with an illness or injury that does not appear to be life –threatening, but also can’t wait until the next day, or for primary care doctor to see them.

In New York, there are three major urgent care companies: CityMD, GoHealth, and ProHealth. Remember that urgent care is not a substitute for an ER, in the case of a serious injury or illness, you should always go to an ER; however, urgent care is a nice alternative in less dire situations.



Why I love Urgent Care

In 2012, my son tripped and hurt the ring finger of his left hand. Consequently, we had to go to an ER and get it checked out. We had to wait what felt like years in the waiting room while my son was sitting around with an injured finger. When we were finally called to get him examined, they x-rayed him, gave him a splint, and had a brief talk with me. All in all, the entire process of the check-up took much less time than the wait.

Skip ahead a few years, and we encounter a similar situation: my son had sprained his ankle in his gym class and needed a doctor’s note to return to school. This time, we went to an urgent care center instead of an ER. We walk in and we sign in using an electronic kiosk. Minutes later, we are called up and my son is examined by a doctor. He receives the necessary documents for school and gets bandage wraps for his ankle. The difference in wait times is astounding; in fact, according to the Urgent Care Association of America(UCAOA), the average wait time of an urgent care center is less than an hour whereas the wait times in ERs average at 4 hours per visit. Not only did I save time, I saved money as well; the UCAOA reports urgent care visits to be at one-tenth the cost of ER trips.

Oftentimes, when you go to the ER and your reason of visit isn’t life-threatening or serious, you may have long waiting times due to people with ailments more serious than yours. And other times you have a condition that cannot wait for a scheduled appointment. Urgent care facilities deputize as a sort of Goldilocks clinic; when you have an injury too serious to wait but does not require instant attention. So all in all, urgent care clinics are a valuable resource to utilize but are not an end-all solution to your medical needs.



Urgent Care Centers Analysis

Within New York, there are three major urgent care centers in New York: CityMD, GoHealth, and ProHealth. Each center contains different aspects and a combination of said aspects could make any given center more suitable than the others. Ultimately, it boils down to two main factors: Location and hours.









Typically open until 8 or 9pm on weekdays and until 5pm on weekends.

Open until 8pm

Closing times range from 5-9pm depending on location, but mostly close at 9



There are about 65 New York CityMD locations and 73 of them nationwide. There is most likely one in your area if you live in the NYC area.


There are 38 NY GoHealth locations. It is most likely not a viable option if you live in Brooklyn seeing that there is only one locations there. But if you live in Long Island, GoHealth is most likely your best option seeing that there are 18 LI locations.


There aren’t as many ProHealth centers in NY as the other two major urgent care centers in NY so it  is less likely that there is one within a convenient distance from you.



HMO vs. PPO vs. EPO

When looking for health insurance it is an absolute imperative to evaluate your options. There are mainly three options when it comes to this: Health Maintenance Organization(HMO), Preferred Provider Organization(PPO), and Exclusive Provider Organization. Being aware of the differences between these plans will make it easier to find the one right for you.




Access to network or doctors, hospitals,etc.

Ability to see the doctor you want without a PCP to authorize treatment

Referral from a PCP not needed to see a specialist

Low or no deductible and generally lower premiums

Coverage for medical expenses outside the plan’s network


What is HMO?

Health Maintenance Organization only allows you to choose a single primary care physician(PCP)-- you are only covered for services that go through said physician. If you require the care of a specialist, you need to first get a referral from your primary care physician(except in the case of an emergency).  For instance, if you had trouble with your eyesight, you would first need to confront your PCP and he must deem that is necessary to see an optometrist then refer you to one. The exception to this rule is to gynecologists and obstetricians. If you are a woman in need of services such as annual well-woman visits, Pap tests, or obstetrical care you do not need a referral to visit the corresponding doctor for said treatment. Of the three options, HMO involves the least paperwork and the lowest health care costs.

What is PPO?

Preferred Provider Organization allows for the most flexibility in your care. Unlike an HMO plan, you do not need to appoint a PCP-- you can visit any health care physician, inside or outside your network, without a referral.  



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