There are numerous reasons you might need to go to the doctor. For example, if you have kids, they are sick all the time, with the average child catching anywhere from six to 10 colds a year, and sometimes those colds can progress into something worse. Adults get sick and injured, too, with 25,000 people a day spraining their ankle. Of course, illness and injury often don’t occur on a convenient schedule, and doctor’s offices usually are only open during normal business hours on a weekday and, if you are lucky, maybe for a few hours on a Saturday. If you get sick or injured outside normal business hours, it can be very expensive to have to go to the emergency room. But there is an alternative: urgent care.

According to a study from Milliman, anywhere from about half to two-thirds of all emergency room visits are for issues that could have been taken care of at an urgent care clinic. And when you visit an urgent care facility, the visit will usually cost about one-third as much as an emergency room visit or even less. Cost isn’t the only advantage of a walk in clinic, however.

Compared to an emergency room visit, you are likely to get in much faster at a walk in clinic. In fact, you usually don’t have to wait any longer than you would at your regular doctors office. In fact, studies have shown that you are likely to face a wait time of 30 minutes or less at nine out of 10 visits to a quick care clinic. That compares with ER wait times that can easily be an hour or more in most cases.

Many people think of urgent care for emergencies such as an injury or a late night illness, but walk in clinics also can be a good choice for routine wellness care. You can get school physicals, flu shots and other vaccinations at a walk in clinic, and it can actually be more convenient to do your preventive care there.

There are many reasons to use a walk in clinic. The next time you get sick or hurt outside of business hours, think about urgent care instead of going to the ER.

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