Urgent Care Vs. Primary Care: Where To Go For Medical Care?

Urgent Care Vs. Primary Care

What is the next thing after we are sick or injured? Getting ourselves fixed is what we should do. But what kind of medical facility do we go in? We have two options: the primary care center, and the other is the urgent care. Sicknesses and injuries can be mild or severe, making it very difficult to determine which doctor to see. Therefore, here in this article, we will determine the appropriate care by understanding when to visit an urgent care center and when to visit a primary care center.

When To Avail Primary Care?

Primary care is designed for facilitating long-term care for patients for conditions that are not very urgent. For instance, people with conditions such as mild injuries, adverse bacteria reactions, unforeseen virus attacks, and other similar conditions must avail treatment from a primary care provider

Urgent Care Vs. Primary Care
Doctor and patient.

Primary care physicians are generally aware of the patient’s medical history, making it easier to facilitate the necessary diagnosis. Individuals with the following conditions or symptoms must avail of diagnosis from their primary care providers:

  • Getting shots for enhancing immunity    
  • Viral cold, cough, and flu
  • Infections in the urinary tract
  • Sore throat or ear infections
  • Refilling prescriptions
  • Skin problems
  • Mild injuries such as bumps, sprains, and bruises
  • Seeking referral to a specialist 

When To Avail Urgent Care?

The main function of urgent care centers is to manage medical conditions that need urgent attention. More precisely, any life-threatening medical condition that cannot wait till the next day should be treated in an urgent care center. Not just that, but one can also visit an urgent care center when the primary healthcare center is closed, or the physician is unavailable for any reason. Some of the most well known urgent medical conditions include:

  • Redness and irritation in the eyes
  • Difficulty in breathing from low or mild asthma
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Minor bone injuries such as fractures
  • Diagnostics services including laboratory tests like blood tests or x-ray.
  • Cuts and bruises that are not very severe but still require stitches. 

What Are The Benefits Of Primary Health Care?

As we all know, primary health care is the first point of contact with health services, making it vital for getting started with any treatment. In addition, primary care has many benefits associated with it, and these benefits include:

  • Focusing On Prevention: Primary care plays a significant role in preventing any severe health conditions. Physicians can recommend minor changes in the lifestyle to stop the medical condition before it worsens. For instance, primary care physicians can recommend a patient stay active to avoid diabetes or obesity.
  • Early Detection And Management Of Health Conditions: Primary care doctors can recommend patients to get tested and screened if there is any sign or symptom of any complex condition. Things like bowel cancer screening, breast examination, checking blood pressure, and more can be very crucial in detecting any adverse condition as early as possible.
  • Enhanced Monitoring Of The Overall Health: Primary care focuses more on an individual’s overall health than just focusing on a particular organ or system. This facilitates better monitoring of health conditions, and in some cases, this also helped reduce the mortality rates.

What Are The Benefits Of Urgent Health Care?

Urgent care centers are much more than just the last resort for patients whose doctors are unavailable at the moment. Doctors and nurses in urgent care centers are known for providing patients with quality medical care. In addition, there are many more benefits of urgent care that includes:

  • Shorter Wait Times: Unlike emergency care and primary care, patients do not wait long in urgent care facilities. In most cases, patients can get the necessary care within the same day without any appointments. Therefore, unless someone is experiencing severe symptoms, then urgent care is the ideal option for them.
  • Convenient Timing: Urgent care centers are called so because these centers are open for people almost at any time. These centers are usually open seven days a week, with evening hours on the weekdays. Furthermore, there is no need for an appointment to avail care from an urgent care center.
  • Seamlessly Accessible: Most developed countries globally, including the US, have numerous urgent care centers spread across different locations throughout the country. Numbers suggest that there are 8250 urgent care centers in the US, and 400-500 new centers are added each year.     

Which Is More Affordable Primary Care Or Urgent Care?

This is one of the most common questions that everyone has in their minds. However, it is widely considered that a visit to an urgent care center costs a lot less than primary care visits. As per the UCA analysis that cited the figures from 2016, Cigna claims that an average visit to an urgent care center costs less than $150. Of course, other variables like insurance policies and companies also play a role, but urgent care is much more affordable than primary care.  


Now that we know the distinction and offerings of primary care and urgent care, we must make the right choice before our next visit to a medical facility. Numerous medical facilities are spread across different locations; therefore, getting oneself fixed from whichever facility is suitable for them based on their requirements is recommended.

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