There are some medical concerns that patients can feel ashamed or embarrassed to discuss with their primary care physicians. One of these is the possibility of sexually transmitted diseases. STDs are actually quite common in our country and many of them can be cured with a few doses of prescription medications, but still many people would rather suffer from the symptoms than discuss it with their PCP. Fortunately, there are other options that do not require a visit with your familiar PCP.
Visit the local after hours urgent care center
Although STD centers are generally more catered toward testing for STDs, most urgent care centers are also equipped to do so. If you have any pressing symptoms, head to the nearest walk in clinic. Inform them of your symptoms and they will run a series of STD tests. It is possible that your medical records will still be sent to your PCP’s office, but you do not necessarily have to discuss them or schedule a follow up appointment. That is, unless you require a medical treatment that is extensive and cannot be completed in the STD testing center.
At home STD testing kit
There are also at home STD testing kits that you can purchase from your local pharmacy. Just make sure that the test you purchase includes the suspected STD. Additionally, you will still probably want to follow up with your PCP or STD testing centers, especially if the results are positive. These kits can give results, but do not include a treatment. Also, if the test is negative, it is always a good idea to test again in a few days, just to be sure.
Anonymous STD testing services
Some STD testing centers are completely anonymous. These types of tests usually take place at your local community health clinic. While they will still create a file on your case, you can request that they do not send it to your PCP. The cost of STD testing, in this case, is usually not covered by your insurance provider, because your insurance information is never taken. You might be able to submit a claim to your insurance provider later if you decide that you want to. But, this can take some of the anonymity out of the testing. If you test positive, it could still be useful to schedule a follow up with your PCP, unless you intend to go through the treatment process with the community health clinic.
Other reasons for community STD tests
There are other reasons that might cause a patient to choose STD testing centers over their PCP for STD concerns. If a patient does not have health insurance, it can be very expensive to schedule an appointment with a PCP. Many health clinics are free or charge a very minimal fee. The emergency room might be an option for some patients. The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey reports that the average ER visitor pays total costs of $1,318 and a mean cost of $615. Emergency medical care may be more expensive, but patients are not required to pay up front.
Additionally, it can sometimes be very difficult to get into a PCP office last minute. According to current data, the U.S. needs about 52,000 more primary care physicians by 2025 to meet our healthcare needs. With this shortage, it is often much faster to walk into a local medical clinic.
Many Americans will deal with the possibility of an STD at some point or another. Some will feel too embarrassed to deal with it at their local PCP office. There are other options including STD testing centers, community health clinics, and urgent care centers. The most important thing is that it is dealt with as quickly as possible.