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Deciding Between Urgent Care Centers and Emergency Rooms

Deciding Between Urgent Care Centers and Emergency Rooms

July 18, 2016

Urgent Care PhotoIn the past, we have written articles for you about when it is appropriate to use an Emergency Room (“ER”) versus other options such as Urgent Care Centers or Clinics. Our ultimate goal was to save you the time and money it costs to go to an ER. We made such topical articles available to you because in reality, many people end up spending a fortune on health care by going to the ER to get treated, even when their situation is not an emergency. Remember, if you need a doctor right away, but your situation is not necessarily an emergency, the ER is not your only choice.

We’d like to remind you that Urgent Care Centers can be a great option.

When certain injuries or illnesses occur out of the blue, many of us are often unsure of where exactly to go for health care, especially if our regular doctor’s office is closed. However, confusion doesn’t necessarily have to rule the day. There are certain ways you can identify your symptoms and injuries to help you make your decision.

Identifying the difference between emergency and urgent care is of utmost importance. There are certain symptoms and injuries that occur which are always cause for emergency room visits. Typically, symptoms and injuries like heavy bleeding, large wounds, chest pains, burns, head injuries, difficulty breathing, and broken bones, are conditions that require emergency room care because they entail more advanced treatments that only hospitals can provide.

On the other hand, there are illnesses and injuries that are not life threatening emergencies, but also need to be taken care of right away. Specific symptoms and conditions where you may consider going to an Urgent Care Center include minor injuries such as, sprains, moderate back problems, and bleeding or cuts (not excessive bleeding, but stitches may be required). Not only can you be treated for those minor injuries at Urgent Care Centers or Clinics, but symptoms like severe sore throat or cough, a fever not higher than 104 degrees, mild to moderate asthma, eye irritation and redness, vomiting, skin rashes and infections, and diarrhea or dehydration can also be treated. As a matter of fact, diagnostic services, including X-rays and laboratory tests, if needed, can be performed at certain Urgent Care facilities as well.

When making your final decision about where to get treated, keep in mind that an Urgent Care Center visit has a $25 copayment under the NYCDCC Welfare Fund Plan, while an ER visit is a $200 copayment unless you are admitted within 24 hours. Should you determine that you are experiencing a minor injury or illness that only requires urgent care, you can be prepared by downloading Empire BlueCross BlueShield’s mobile app, located on Google Play and iTunes. With Empire BlueCross BlueShield’s mobile app, you can access and use your member ID card. You can also search for Urgent Care Centers in the Empire BlueCross BlueShield network and get directions right from your smartphone!

To find out more about Urgent Care Centers in your area, visit