Urgent Care versus Emergency Care
Urgent Care Centers
By choosing to go to an urgent care center in non-life-threatening situations, your employees can avoid the long wait times and higher out-of-pocket costs associated with emergency room (ER) visits.
Here’s what to expect from an urgent care facility:
Average wait time of less than one hour
Fast and personalized care from qualified medical professionals
Extended service hours, often including evenings and weekends
Walk-ins; usually no appointment required
Urgent care facilities are for conditions that are not life-threatening but do need attention right away. Services commonly offered at Urgent care centers include:
If your physician isn’t available, urgent care providers can also help manage some chronic health conditions by, for example, adjusting diabetes medication.
If someone experiences symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, or feels their "life or limb" is in danger, the person should go directly to the emergency room or call 911.
Urgent Care Centers vs. Emergency Rooms
|Urgent Care Centers||Emergency Rooms|
|Cough, sore throat, respiratory infections||Any life-threatening or disabling condition|
|Ear aches||Injury, with loss of consciousness or fainting|
|Back pain, body aches||Uncontrolled bleeding|
|Burning with urination||Sudden numbness of limbs or face, difficulty speaking|
|Colds, sinus infections, allergies||Severe shortness of breath or difficulty breathing|
|Eye irritation, swelling or pain||Sudden, severe chest pain or pressure|
|Muscle strains||Major injuries, vehicle accidents, stab wounds|
|Rashes, minor cuts, scrapes, wounds||Poisoning|
|Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea||Sudden, severe abdominal pain|
|Animal bites||Vomiting blood|
How to Locate an Urgent Care Center
Use Blue Shield’s Find a Provider tool to find an urgent care center for covered services.
Another Avenue for After-Hours Care
Some issues may not be urgent or an emergency, but occur outside of doctors’ office hours. For questions relating to minor health issues, we’re pleased to offer Blue Shield members 24-hour toll-free access to a registered nurse through NurseHelp 24/7 at (877) 304-0504.