5 steps for a sudden health concern

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. With these steps, you can help yourself get the care you need.


Ask yourself: Is it serious?

Think about who can best understand the symptoms you’re having. Things you can’t control — like trouble catching your breath or bleeding you can’t stop — should be treated at the emergency room. Be sure to call 911 if you need immediate help. If you’re hurt in other ways, your primary care doctor or an urgent care center may be a more appropriate and more convenient way for you to get the care you need.

Let someone know

Whether your situation is or isn’t an emergency, let someone at home know, or tell a friend. Even texting a relative brings another person to offer support and may create a reminder for them to check on you.

Determine where you should get care

Your insurer or primary care doctor may have different ways to help you decide the best place to get care. Your health insurance may offer a nurse line. Call to understand if you need to go to the emergency room or if it’s likely you can be treated at an urgent care clinic. Your primary care doctor may also have a nurse line you can call.

Plan your visit

Once you identify a care option, the timing is really up to you. If you can’t see your primary care doctor, visit urgent care for conditions like minor cuts or burns, headaches or the flu. You could also contact your health plan customer service to find a nearby urgent care clinic or to set up a time to see your primary care doctor.

Bring the essentials

Always make sure you have your photo ID and health insurance card. It’s a good idea to bring a mobile phone to jot down questions to ask your primary care doctor and an extra charger if you have one. You can bring activities or snacks if kids are joining you at your primary care doctor.

1. Ask yourself: Is it serious?

Think about who can best understand the symptoms you’re having. Things you can’t control — like trouble catching your breath or bleeding you can’t stop — should be treated at the emergency room. Be sure to call 911 if you need immediate help. If you’re hurt in other ways, your primary care doctor or an urgent care center may be a more appropriate and more convenient way for you to get the care you need.

2. Let someone know

Whether your situation is or isn’t an emergency, let someone at home know, or tell a friend. Even texting a relative brings another person to offer support and may create a reminder for them to check on you.

3. Determine where you should get care

Your insurer or primary care doctor may have different ways to help you decide the best place to get care. Your health insurance may offer a nurse line. Call to understand if you need to go to the emergency room or if it’s likely you can be treated at an urgent care clinic. Your primary care doctor may also have a nurse line you can call.

4. Plan your visit

Once you identify a care option, the timing is really up to you. If you can’t see your primary care doctor, visit urgent care for conditions like minor cuts or burns, headaches or the flu. You could also contact your health plan customer service to find a nearby urgent care clinic or to set up a time to see your primary care doctor.

5. Bring the essentials

Always make sure you have your photo ID and health insurance card. It’s a good idea to bring a mobile phone to jot down questions to ask your primary care doctor and an extra charger if you have one. You can bring activities or snacks if kids are joining you at your primary care doctor.