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What to Bring to An Urgent Care Visit

For non–life-threatening emergencies, like flu-like symptoms, minor burns, sprains and rashes, heading to urgent care can be much more efficient (and less costly) than a trip to the emergency room. Being prepared for an urgent care visit can help ease the process (and calm any nerves you may have while visiting), as well as ensure that you receive the best care quickly.

To do so, it’s important to arrive with the proper documentation and have an idea of any forms you might have to fill out. Here’s everything you need to know, from which IDs to bring to how you can cut down on your wait time.

What to bring

Whether it’s for an urgent care appointment or a walk-in visit, proper documentation can be important to getting the correct treatment and doing so quickly. Make sure you’ve got your driver’s license or picture identification, insurance card (if you have insurance) and a payment method.

For those on medication already, a list of your current regimen can help clinicians give you the best care. It may be worth having your pharmacy information handy too, including the address and phone number, as well as any other medical documents that you think you might need. For minors visiting without their parent or guardian, you will most likely need a parental authorization form.

Insurance information (if you have it)

Insurance isn’t always required, as many urgent cares accept self-pay patients. Still, if you’re able, it’s a good idea to double-check that your insurance is accepted before you head over. Call your insurer or check with them online.

Check-in information to have ready

Although specifics may vary slightly by location, usually urgent care centers will ask for some demographic information, including your name, date of birth, address and contact information. Then they will usually check your insurance, and tell you what you’ll likely be expected to cover.

Filling out your forms

For most visits, you will fill out a patient information form, emergency contact information, HIPAA, consent and intake forms, a medical history form and authorization forms or medical waiver forms, depending on the care provided. Collect as much of that data beforehand and keep it handy to ease the process of completing that paperwork.

Waiting in line for your visit

How long you wait to see a provider depends on how busy your urgent care center is, which can vary by day, time and general flow of patients. “There can be a short wait, depending upon how busy the office is,” said Vera Luthra, director of Urgent Care of New York and Affiliates.

Some urgent care sites only accept walk-ins and don’t make appointments, but check online or call the office beforehand, because they might have a virtual queue that you can enter from home to cut down on the time that you wait in the facility.

Anything else?

You may be able to cut down on time and paperwork you have to fill out on-site with some prep beforehand. “Pre-fill the forms online, if the office allows,” Luthra said.

All in all, don’t hesitate to ask the front desk staff if you need something, or have questions about what to expect or what paperwork you’re filling out.

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