Where Should You Go When You’re Sick or Hurt?

July 23, 2015

There are different types of care for different situations.

Your main doctor (sometimes called a primary care doctor or general practitioner) is usually your first stop if you have a minor illness or minor injury. Minor illnesses or injuries could include a cold or a minor sprain. In most cases, you need to make an appointment with your primary care doctor in advance. Most primary care doctors are available during the day on weekdays, and might not be available at night or on weekends. Seeing your primary care doctor usually costs less than going to an urgent care center or an emergency room.

Urgent care centers are usually open after normal business hours. If the following are true, and urgent care center might be the right place to go:

  • Your illness or injury isn’t life threatening
  • You need to get care soon
  • You can’t see your primary care doctor (maybe you can’t get an appointment soon enough or it’s the weekend)

Often, your share of the costs for going to an urgent care center will be lower than going to an emergency room.

An emergency room (also called the ER) is part of a hospital that is usually open 24 hours a day. They’re the best place to go when you have a serious situation, like a broken bone. Remember: Visits to the emergency room can have higher out-of-pocket costs than visits to your primary care doctor or an urgent care center.

Make sure to review your summary of benefits and coverage so you know what your share of the cost of health care is. For many plans, the costs are different for different types of care.

If you have questions about your out-of-pocket costs, you can read more here. If you have questions about your plan, you can contact your insurance company directly.

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