When Is Urgent Care the Right Choice?

It’s 2:30 on a Sunday afternoon and your stomach has been killing you for an hour. You can’t handle the pain at home anymore. Is this an emergency room situation?

Maybe not: Urgent care might be able to diagnose and treat your symptoms faster and for less money. 

If you’re not sure about whether or not your condition requires an emergency room visit, take a look at these helpful guidelines:

Urgent Care

This option is best for problems you would typically see a primary care physician for. 

Use when: Your primary care doctor’s office is closed or you can’t get an appointment soon enough. Urgent care centers have evening and weekend hours. 

Commonly treated conditions: Fever without a rash, abdominal pain, wheezing, shortness of breath, dehydration, moderate flu-like symptoms, sprains and strains, and moderate cuts that may require stitches.

Wait time: Up to an hour.

Cost: A few hundred dollars, depending on your insurance coverage and the services provided.

Emergency Room 

Go here to treat serious problems that threaten life or limb.

Use when: Symptoms indicate a possible heart attack or stroke; immediate hospital admission may be required; urgent care is closed and you can’t wait until it’s open.

Commonly treated conditions: Chest pain, trouble breathing, one-sided weakness or numbness, slurred speech, head or eye injury, fainting, change in mental state, fever with a rash, seizure, severe cuts, broken bones, dislocated joints or severe cold or flu symptoms.

Wait time: A few moments to several hours, depending on your condition.

Cost: Typically more than a thousand dollars, even with insurance. Bills can skyrocket with hospital admission or out-of-network care.

Always trust your intuition when it comes to medical symptoms, and in a time-sensitive, life-threatening emergency such as a suspected heart attack or stroke, always call 911 and request an ambulance. 

Have questions? Reach out to discuss your coverage.