How to Decide When to Go to Urgent Care

Updated: June 9, 2022

Urgent care centers provide fast, noncritical health care on a walk-in basis. A visit is generally around the same price or slightly more than a clinic visit but far cheaper than a trip to the emergency room.

But how do you know when you may need urgent care or when to choose another treatment option?

Urgent care fills a health care gap

According to experts, many patients visit emergency rooms for health care issues that could be handled elsewhere. Urgent care centers can usually handle injuries and illnesses that need immediate care but are not life-threatening or debilitating. Examples include minor cuts and burns, back or muscle pain, vomiting and diarrhea.

Primary care providers manage routine health care

A primary care provider, or PCP, can manage most of your regular health care needs. PCPs offer cheaper treatment choices, and you’ll often see them before going to a specialist, although they may coordinate your overall care. For general health concerns, consider contacting a primary care provider.

Emergency departments provide critical care

Emergency departments are indispensable if you’re critically ill or injured but will likely be your most expensive option. Of course, in a true emergency, the cost is the last thing on many people’s minds.

While urgent care could save you from an expensive ED visit, it’s better to err on the side of caution if you’re hurt or sick and not sure what to do. If you can’t make it to the hospital or the situation is life-threatening, you can call 911.

If you need help understanding how your health insurance covers different treatment options, just reach out — we’re here for you.

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