Know Where to Go When Minutes Count, or Anytime

Know Where to Go When Minutes Count, or Anytime

It’s important to know where to go when you need care.

Sometimes the choice is clear. If you’re having signs of a heart attack or stroke, it’s best to go to an emergency room (ER). But what if you have a sore throat? Or an upset stomach after eating sushi? The choice may not be so clear.

And that’s the rub: Knowing where to go or who to call can make a big difference in cost and time – even when it’s not an emergency.

If you aren’t having an emergency, knowing where to go for medical care may save you on cost and time. Fortunately, you have good choices for non-emergency care.

Instead of the ER, keep these care options in mind:

24/7 Bilingual Nurseline

Bilingual English- and Spanish-speaking registered nurses are on call to answer your questions or concerns.1

  • Nurses are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • It’s easy to connect, just call 800-299-0274
Telehealth Visits

You may be able to visit with a doctor by phone, online video chat or via mobile app for non-emergency medical and behavioral health concerns.2

  • Telehealth visits can happen anytime night or day, 7 days a week
  • They can be a good option when you have allergies, a cold or flu, or suffer from depression
Doctor's Office

Talk to the person who knows you and your medical history.

  • Your doctor can help with fevers, colds, the flu, sore throats and stomachache
  • Keep in mind, your doctor’s office hours may vary
Retail Clinic

Many grocery stores, pharmacies and “big box” chains have a medical care clinic located inside. These “retail” clinics3:

  • Can be good for non-emergency care when you can’t see a doctor
  • Offer weekend and evening hours, accept walk-ins and can have short wait times
  • Can take care of minor injuries, pain, sore throat, strep and other non-emergencies
Urgent Care

Your neighborhood urgent care is a good option when a health issue needs immediate attention but isn’t an emergency. An urgent care center:

  • Offers evening, weekend and holiday hours
  • Treats cuts that need stitches, migraines and severe headaches, back pain, sprains and strains, animal bites, rashes, and more

Be careful to choose an urgent care center and not a standalone ER. If the building has “Emergency” listed on its exterior, it is an ER. It may not be covered by your health plan and can cost you a lot more money.4

Emergency Room

Go to the ER if you have life-threatening symptoms.4 Any time you have chest pains or heart problems, trouble breathing, heavy bleeding, broken bones or sudden or severe pain, seek help right away.

  • Help is available 24 hours, 7 days a week
  • With a staff of medical experts, an ER is best equipped to care for you in an emergency

Log in to our Provider Finder® tool to find a doctor's office, retail health clinic, urgent care center or hospital ER in your plan's provider network.

Remember, when you visit in-network providers, you may pay less for care. That’s why it’s good to learn about your choices now. It will help you be prepared the next time you need care. 

1 The 24/7 Bilingual Nurseline may not be available with all plans. Check your benefits booklet for details.
2 Internet/Wi-Fi connection is needed for computer access. Data charges may apply. Check your cellular data or internet service provider’s plan for details. Non-emergency medical service in Idaho, Montana and New Mexico is limited to interactive audio/video (video only), along with the ability to prescribe. Non-emergency medical service in Arkansas is limited to interactive audio/video (video only) for initial consultation, along with the ability to prescribe. Behavioral Health service is limited to interactive audio/video (video only), along with the ability to prescribe in all states. Service availability depends on location at the time of consultation.
3 Visiting a Retail Clinic may not be covered with all plans. Check your benefits booklet for details.
4 Some freestanding emergency rooms are not in network and may charge you the full cost of care.

Originally published 4/5/2017; Revised 2019, 2022