Should I Go to Urgent Care or to the Emergency Room?
It’s important to know where to go when an illness or injury occurs. We can help you better understand when to visit an urgent care center and when to visit an emergency room.
While the emergency room can help care for any medical situation, it costs an average of three times more than a visit to an urgent care center. In a non-life threatening situation, you can most likely be treated at an urgent care center.
If you have a true emergency, go to your nearest emergency room or call 911.
Urgent Care Centers
Urgent care centers handle non-life threatening situations, and many are staffed with doctors and nurses who have access to x-rays and labs onsite.
Most urgent care centers are open late and on weekends and holidays.
Choosing an urgent care center over the ER can save you time and money:
- Average time of an ER visit: 4.5 hours*
- Average cost of an ER visit: $2,259**
- Average cost of an urgent care center visit: $176**
Visit an urgent care center for these common conditions:
- Flu and cold
- Coughs and sore throat
- High fevers
- Vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain
- Cuts and severe scrapes
- Broken bones
- Minor injuries and burns
Emergency rooms are meant for true medical emergencies and can handle trauma, x-rays, surgical procedures and other life threatening situations.
Most hospitals have an emergency room that’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Visit an emergency room if you experience:
- Allergic reactions to food, animal or bug bites
- Broken bones
- Chest pain
- Constant vomiting
- Continuous bleeding
- Severe shortness of breath
- Deep wounds
- Weakness or pain in a leg or arm
- Head injuries
*America’s Emergency Care Environment, A State-by-State Report Card – 2014", American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).
**Cost estimates are national 2016 averages of participating facilities; actual cost may vary by location, facility, and the type or level of services received./ Cost estimates are based on Cigna 2016 claim data .
The information provided here is for educational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Cigna assumes no responsibility for any circumstances arising out of the use, misuse, interpretation or application of this information. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing and care recommendations.