Who Cares About Health Care?

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In the United States, health care is often a hot topic of contention among citizens and political parties. In response to increasing costs of prescription drugs and medical visits, some Americans believe the U.S. should adopt a single-payer, federalized system akin to the socialized systems in some Western European nations like England and Denmark. Others want the private sector to handle health insurance so that free market competition will force prices down.

Neither side is inherently right or wrong, as versions of both methods have historically succeeded and failed to varying degrees. Every country is different, and times are always changing, so a definitive healthcare system simply doesn’t exist. That being said, the one thing that doesn’t change, and the one thing we can all agree on, is that people are still prone to illness and injury. Therefore, it’s important for people to be able to find doctors and medical help in a timely and effective way.

The rise of urgent care centers has made it easier, quicker, and somewhat cheaper for patients to have their injuries and illnesses treated. Beginning in the 1970s, urgent care centers in the U.S. became more and more prevalent, especially in urban areas. The establishment of urgent care centers reduced the number of visits to emergency rooms, allowing ERs to handle more serious health concerns and urgent care facilities to treat less threatening ones.

So what kind of problems do urgent care centers address? The most common procedure in urgent care facilities is wound repair. These include bites, scratches, punctures, cuts, and tears. The most common diagnosis urgent care doctors issue are upper respiratory conditions. These are all issues one’s individual doctor could address, of course, but sometimes it’s simply easier and cheaper to have these short term problems treated by an urgent care physician, rather than set up an appointment with one’s primary doctor.

There are several other conditions that can be treated by urgent care, but in some cases it’s truly best to find doctors, or a single doctor, who can get to know an individual and their health history on a more intimate level. This especially applies to those with a chronic condition. It’s estimated that by the year 2030, 60% of baby boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) will suffer from a chronic condition. One of these conditions, for instance, will likely be chronic back pain, as it already affects nearly 70% of Americans on a daily basis.

While attending urgent care centers is important and convenient for immediate and minor concerns, it’s important for people to find doctors who can focus on them for extended periods of time as well. While the debate rages on in terms of how to reduce health care costs while simultaneously providing for everyone and still allowing the freedom to choose one’s provider, the bottom line remains that we still need good health care for all of our minor and major issues. At the very least, we can all be grateful that we have urgent care centers, ERs, and knowledgable doctors in the U.S. to help us live longer, healthier, lives.

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