How do I determine where to go to receive care?
Making the right choice about where to seek care helps ensure that you receive appropriate care in the right place and at the right cost.
There are three major types of care facilities:
- Primary Care: You should visit your primary care provider (PCP) if you are in need of a routine check-up, preventive care or if you have a non-urgent illness or injury like a cold or a pulled muscle. This is often your best option, as your PCP is familiar with your medical history, has access to your records and health plan, and will be able to provide you with a scheduled appointment.
- Urgent Care: Sometimes called “walk-in” clinics, urgent care facilities provide basic medical care without an appointment. Sometimes you might need basic care at a time when your PCP is not available (like after-hours or on the weekend) or you might be sick and not want to wait to schedule an appointment. In these instances, an urgent care facility might be the right choice. However, it is important to note that urgent care facilities are NOT equipped to treat emergency medical situations.
- Emergency Care (ER): Go to an emergency room or call 911 if you or someone you know is experiencing a serious or life-threatening medical issue or severe injury. Examples of emergency conditions may include: difficulty breathing, heavy bleeding, sudden loss of mobility or chest pain. If you aren’t sure what’s wrong and it could be serious, it is best to go to the ER or call 911.
Other Options for Medical Care:
- Retail Health Clinics: Retail health clinics are located in major pharmacies and large retail stores, like CVS and Walmart. These clinics can provide on-the-spot care for routine services. You might visit a retail health clinic to get a flu shot, a strep test or help treating a minor skin condition like poison ivy or a sprained ankle.
- Telemedicine: Telemedicine refers to the use of electronic communication technology to provide healthcare services from a distance. You might utilize telemedicine if you want to follow-up with your healthcare provider, want to discuss a symptom or medication or have a routine question that does not require an in-person appointment.
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