Urgent Care or Emergency Room? Where Do I Go?
Knowing the difference between emergency room (ER) and urgent care can save you a lot of time
and money. Visits to the ER usually cost more than a visit to a nearby urgent care clinic. If a medical
condition is life- or limb-threatening, or if you have severe wounds, visiting an ER makes sense.
But, if the medical condition is non-life-threatening (a sprained ankle, back pain, needing stitches),
visiting a nearby urgent care clinic may save you time and money. Urgent care clinics are staffed by
doctors and are open after-hours, and finding one near you is easy.
to find a full list of urgent care options.
Emergency Room, Urgent Care Center or Your PCP?
Use your health care dollars wisely. Save money and wait time by learning when to use the
emergency room (ER). If you or a loved one experiences a true emergency, or if you are not sure
where to go based on your symptoms, go to the nearest ER or call 911 for help. When it’s not an
emergency we just want you to know that you have other, just as effective options – and in most
cases, less expensive options, such as:
Same- or Next-Day Appointments
• Your personal care physician’s (PCP’s) office has set aside same- or next-day appointments for
urgent care needs
• Urgent care appointments with your PCP cost less than an ER visit copay
• Call your doctor’s office for its urgent care guidelines
Use an Urgent Care Center
• Keep a list of urgent care centers – along with their hours of operation – handy
• In most cases, your urgent care center copay is considerably less than an ER copay
Use the chart on the following page as a tool to help you decide which option will work best for you
and your family.