Feeling sick? Used to be that you'd dial your doctor (or go straight to the ER). Now, there are more options. Click through to decide what's best for your situation.
Go here if: You have a non-urgent symptom like a sore throat or an elbow sprain during office hours. Your primary care doctor (usually a family physician or internist) is also best for checkups, shots and ongoing issues like diabetes.
Find it fast: Don't have a doctor? Check with your insurance for practitioners who are covered under your plan. You can also go to ZocDoc.com and search for local doctors who take your insurance; they'll even book appointments.
Who you'll see: Your own doctor will usually treat you at each visit, but certain practices have a team of physicians who care for one another's patients. And some offices have physician assistants, medical professionals who work in tandem with an MD.
Good to know: Primary care doctors have a relationship with you and keep records of all your meds and what has worked (or not) in the past. This means there is less of a chance you'll be given a drug that will interact with meds you're on.
Cut your wait time: Call ahead of your appointment to see if the office is on schedule. If you can, avoid Mondays, which are busy due to people who've fallen ill over the weekend. Fridays are also busy with people who need Rx's before the weekend.
Go here if: You have a minor problem like a sore throat, a stomachache or a sinus infection—or you need an immunization—and you can't get in to see your doctor. Retail clinics are also helpful if you're traveling and you get sick.
Find it fast: Retail clinics are normally found in chain pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS, supermarkets like ShopRite and big-box stores such as Walmart and Target.
Who you'll see: A nurse practitioner—they make up 95% of the clinics' workforce (the other 5% is physician assistants and doctors). They can do most of what doctors do, including diagnosing and treating conditions, and, in most cases, writing Rx's.
Good to know: This is the least costly option if you're uninsured or your plan only covers emergencies. A visit is about $75 (shots and lab tests are separate). Many take insurance (check with yours) and Medicare. Some also take Medicaid.
Cut your wait time: Time your visit for the afternoon, since clinics are often busiest in the a.m., at lunch and early evening, and operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Most keep the hours of the store they're associated with, often 8 A.M. to 8 P.M.
Click here for more information on where to go with a health problem from Woman's Day.
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