Where to go for medical care

When you need medical attention, knowing where to go for health care can help you save time — and help assure you'll get the care you need. You may choose care from your primary care provider (PCP), a virtual visit (or telehealth), urgent care or emergency room, depending on your situation. Here are tips to help you choose where to go for care. 

Consider your medical need

Where you go for care depends on what kind of medical care you'll need. Look at the examples in the chart below to get a sense of the options you may choose. 

What you need Types of care or treatments Where to go
Preventive and routine care
  • Checkups
  • Immunizations
  • Minor illnesses
  • Minor injuries

Your primary care provider (PCP)

Find a primary care provider

Your issue isn't an emergency, but your PCP isn't available
  • Sprains
  • Minor broken bones (e.g. finger)
  • Minor burns
  • Minor infections
  • Strep throat
  • Earache

Urgent care

 

Life threatening and/or very serious conditions
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Chest pain
  • Major burns
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Broken bones or spinal injuries
  • Progressive confusion or slurred speech
Emergency room
Treatment options or care from your home or work

Use your smartphone, tablet or computer to connect with a provider for these types of care:

  • Minor medical care
  • Mental health care
  • Physical, occupational or speech therapy
  • Chiropractic care
  • Vision or hearing services

(Note: your virtual care options may depend on your health plan)

Virtual visits 

Learn about virtual visits

Tell your PCP about care you received

If you receive urgent or emergency care, It's important share information with your PCP, including diagnoses, treatments, prescriptions and therapy recommendations. This will help your PCP make the best possible decisions about your ongoing health and well-being. It will also help with coordinating care between other providers.

Use checklists to get ready for your visit

Do you get your health insurance through work?

If you have an employer-sponsored health plan,1 your care choices may help you save both time and money. Let's take a look. 

Quiz: Where to get care?

Take a quiz to see what you know about when a condition should receive care from your primary care doctor, urgent care or the emergency room.

Watch and learn more about where to go for care

Whether you're walking home from work or sitting on the couch, feeling a sudden change in health can be upsetting. Some health conditions are serious, but it's important to keep calm and follow a plan. Watch this video to learn more about when to choose the ER vs another option.

How to choose where to get care

Footnotes

  1. Please note: this does not apply to those with Medicare Retiree plans through work. 
  2. Source 2019: Average allowed amounts charged by UnitedHealthcare Network Providers and not tied to a specific condition or treatment. Actual payments may vary depending upon benefit coverage. (Estimated $2,000.00 difference between the average emergency room visit and the average urgent care visit.) The information and estimates provided are for general informational and illustrative purposes only and is not intended to be nor should be construed as medical advice or a substitute for your doctor’s care. You should consult with an appropriate health care professional to determine what may be right for you. In an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
  3. Information about treatment costs are estimates and reflect the average costs of guidance and care delivered through UnitedHealthcare owned and contracted service providers to members of UnitedHealthcare health plans. Costs for specific guidance and treatments may be higher or lower than the costs represented here. Emergency room cost estimates include facility charge and initial physician consultation. Source 2019: Average allowed amounts charged by UnitedHealthcare Network Providers and not tied to a specific condition or treatment. Actual payments may vary depending upon benefit coverage. (Estimated $2,000.00 difference between the average emergency room visit and the average urgent care visit.) The information and estimates provided are for general informational and illustrative purposes only and is not intended to be nor should be construed as medical advice or a substitute for your doctor’s care. You should consult with an appropriate health care professional to determine what may be right for you. In an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Disclaimers

24/7 Virtual Visits phone and video chat with a doctor are not an insurance product, health care provider or a health plan. Unless otherwise required, benefits are available only when services are delivered through a Designated Virtual Network Provider. 24/7 Virtual Visits are not intended to address emergency or life-threatening medical conditions and should not be used in those circumstances. Services may not be available at all times, or in all locations, or for all members. Check your benefit plan to determine if these services are available.