Does Urgent Care Take Medi-Cal?
Seeking medical treatment unexpectedly can be stressful. In the panic of the moment, it may not always be clear where to go to get help. Besides the worry of the injury or illness itself, you may also be thinking, “does Medi-Cal cover urgent care?”
Finding an urgent care clinic that takes Medi-Cal is not the only priority. You also need to think about what kind of treatment you need and where to go to get it. Consider the following example:
It is a Saturday morning, and you have a severe stomachache and now start to have a fever. You want to get medical treatment as soon as possible but know your Doctor is closed on the weekend. So, you are not sure whether to go to an urgent care clinic or the emergency room. You also want to make sure there are urgent care clinics nearby that accepts Medi-Cal.
Yes, many urgent care clinics do accept Medi-cal. At IEHP we have over 90 urgent care clinics in our network that offer Members care afterhours, on weekends and on holidays, when your primary care doctor might be closed. Click here to search for an IEHP urgent care clinic in your area.
Now, that you know that urgent care clinics accept Medi-Cal, let’s review when you might need urgent vs emergency care.
Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room
Urgent care is not the same as emergency care. Urgent care centers are for illnesses and injuries that are not life-threatening, yet still require treatment. Some examples include common illness like the flu, minor fever or headache, painful sore throat, earache or sinus pain, back pain, minor injuries like a sprained ankle, etc. Most urgent care centers provide same-day services and usually have shorter waiting times than emergency rooms.
Emergency rooms (ER) are for life-threatening emergencies and accidents where immediate treatment is required. Emergency rooms are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week and provide care for critical or life-threatening conditions. Visit your nearest ER or call 911 if you experience: changes in mental status, such as confusion, chest pain or pressure, coughing or vomiting blood, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath etc.
When to Visit Urgent Care
Urgent care clinics are not a substitute for your regular doctor. When you can't reach your Doctor after-hours or your Doctor is not available, you have options to get your needed care. Many people don’t realize there is a middle ground between a doctor’s visit and a trip to the ER.
Urgent care centers regularly handle a range of medical problems, including:
- Small wounds
- Cold or flu symptoms
Emergency rooms handle life threatening conditions, including:
- Head injuries
- Broken bones
- Chest pains
- Breathing difficulties
- Heart attack
- Serious burns
- Serious bleeding
Does urgent care take medical history into account? Absolutely! Your medical records form an important part of your treatment and follow-up care. As such, we always recommend you are ready with the following details:
- Information on pre-existing conditions.
- Details of past surgeries, when you had them, and which hospital and doctors performed them.
- A list of prescription medications you take, the dosage, and how often you take them.
- A list of any over-the-counter medications you take, the dosage, and how often you take them.
- Any allergies you have.
- Make sure to bring your IEHP Member Card
While nobody likes to think about being in an accident or suffering a sudden illness, it is important to be prepared. Your Doctor understands your health and medical background. Doctors at urgent care clinics will not have access to the same depth of information as your primary doctor, therefore, we recommend you that you follow up with your primary care Doctor after visiting an urgent care.
After-Hour and Urgent Care Services for IEHP Members
If you think you need urgent care, it’s always recommended to call your doctor’s office. If your doctor’s office is closed, you can call the IEHP 24-Hour Nurse Advice Line at (888) 244-4347, TTY 711, or click here to search for an IEHP Urgent Care clinic.
Of course, always call 911 if immediate medical care is needed. At IEHP, we pride ourselves on improving lives by delivering quality and accessible healthcare and will not rest until our communities enjoy optimal care and vibrant health. If you have any questions about your Medi-Cal benefits please call IEHP Member Services at 1-800-440-IEHP (4347), Monday–Friday, 7am–7pm, and Saturday–Sunday, 8am–5pm. TTY users should call 1-800-718-4347 to learn more.