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Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room: Which Should You Choose?

Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room: Which Should You Choose?

November 21, 2023

When you require immediate care, it is never something for which you are necessarily prepared. Consequently, it is sometimes difficult to know whether Urgent Care or the Emergency Room (“ER”) is the right place to go. Not only can making this choice impact your health, it can also impact you financially since ER costs are normally substantially higher than costs associated with an Urgent Care Center visit.

When to use Urgent Care

Urgent Care is ideal for when:

  • Your doctor’s office is not open, and/or
  • Treating your family’s minor accidents and illnesses, such as:
    • Minor fractures, sprains, and dislocations
    • Cuts or bad scrapes needing stitches or expert bandaging
    • Flu symptoms including nausea, high fever, body aches, sore throat, and more

When to use the Emergency Room

Choose the ER if you think you or a family member has a life-threatening condition, such as:

  • Heart attack symptoms: chest pain, difficulty breathing, shooting pains down an arm or leg
  • Stroke symptoms: slurred speech, weakness or numbness on one side, loss of vision or difficulty balancing
  • Head trauma, severe cuts and abrasions with uncontrolled bleeding, serious allergic reactions

When you should call 9-1-1 for help

If you think there is a severe life-threatening situation requiring immediate medical attention, it may be time to call 9-1-1.

Call 9-1-1 if:

  • A broken bone is breaking the skin, or you are in a great deal of pain
  • A cut is very deep, and you cannot control the bleeding
  • You are unsure about the severity of the accident or medical event, especially in cases of a potential heart attack, stroke or poisoning

Potential Costs

ERs are more equipped to manage major health issues, so they typically cost more to use. Additionally, under the NYCDCC Welfare Fund, there is a $200 copayment for ER visits if you (or your dependent) are not admitted within 24 hours. If you require an ambulance, you would incur a significant cost for that service as well. For an Urgent Care visit, the cost is $25, not including any tests that may be required.  

Make an informed choice

Remember, the severity of the illness or accident is the best way to tell whether you need to go to Urgent Care or the ER. Minor conditions are best treated at Urgent Care and life-threatening ones require an ER.

For more information

To learn more about the costs associated with Urgent Care and ER visits, you can contact Independence Administrators at (833) 242-3330 or the Fund Office at (800) 529-FUND (3863).