Where Do I Get Care?

Your 2-year-old has an earache. You slip and sprain your ankle. You’re feeling chest pain. Do you know where you should be getting care in each of these cases? It’s important to know because if you go to the emergency room (ER) when it’s not actually an emergency, your insurance may not pay for your care.

A trip to the ER is usually the most expensive kind of care. The average ER visit costs more than the average American's monthly rent.

If you don’t need help right away, you can save time and money by setting up a same-day appointment with your doctor or going to an urgent care or convenient care clinic. These usually have extended hours, you don’t need an appointment, and many clinics have them.

It’s not always easy to know if you should go to the emergency room, especially when you need to act fast, but this guide can help. Trust your judgment. If you believe your health is in serious danger, it’s an emergency.

Know Where To Go

WhereWhen to GoType of CareCosts & Wait Time
Your PCP

Go here when you need preventive care or treatment for a current health issue. They can help manage your medications and refer you to specialists.

Telehealth

A growing number of providers are letting you schedule a telehealth video chat with them or an outside network of doctors through an app or website instead of coming in the office.

Use this if it's not an emergency, but you need care more quickly than you can get into your doctor's office.

If you're a Carle patient, you can video chat with a doctor through InstaCare by Carle for a $49 fee.

  • Common or minor infections, like strep throat
  • Cold and flu
  • Allergies and asthma
  • Earaches and headaches
  • Fever
  • Aches and pains
  • Rashes or insect bites
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Acne
  • Telehealth is so new that many telehealth apps aren't covered by health insurance yet, but most just charge you a small, flat rate that you’re responsible for, much like a copay
  • Saves you the cost of a trip to the doctor
  • Usually you will wait 15 minutes or less
  • Available 24/7, 365 days a year
Convenient or Urgent Care

Go here if it's not an emergency, but you need care more quickly than you can get into your doctor's office.

  • Common or minor infections, like strep throat
  • Cold and flu
  • Allergies and asthma
  • Minor cuts and rashes
  • Earaches and headaches
  • Sprains and strains
  • Minor burns
  • Fever
  • Aches and pains
  • Could include copayment or coinsurance costs depending on the service
  • Walk-ins are welcome, and wait times can vary, but they're usually shorter than the ER
ER

Go here when you need immediate treatment for a serious or life-threatening issue. Call 911 right away if it's an emergency.

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Large open wounds
  • Cuts that need closed
  • Major burns
  • Spine or head injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Fainting or seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Constant high or rising fever
  • Ongoing uncontrolled vomiting or diarrhea
  • Poisoning or severe allergic reactions
When Traveling

Follow this guide to go to urgent care or the ER while traveling, and you can connect to quality emergency medical care when you're far from home with Assist America.