Urgent care vs. ER

Get the care you need now — for less

When you need care fast, the emergency room (ER) may seem like your only option. But for many situations, urgent care clinics may treat the same conditions — at up to $2,000 less than the ER.1

Need urgent care during COVID-19?

While COVID-19 may be top of mind right now, other illnesses and injuries may still be bound to happen. It's still important to get care when you need it. 

Remember, urgent care is an available option if you need care for non-COVID-19-related concerns. Call the urgent care center first to ask about treatment options and hours of operation to help assure you'll get the care you need. 

If you're concerned that you may have been exposed to COVID-19 or if you're having symptoms, you can assess your risk for COVID-19 and get treatment options to discuss with your doctor using our symptom checker.

Compare how urgent care may deliver treatment for less money

Depending on your health insurance coverage, the choices you make about where to go for care for minor injuries or illnesses can help you save money and time. Let's compare urgent care to ER. 

Urgent care

For immediate treatment for non-life-threatening injuries or illnesses. 

Cost: $180 per average visit1

Hours: 60-80 hours per week

Wait time: 30 minutes or less than average2

Care providers: Physicians and care teams

Urgent care clinics offer treatment for non-life-threatening injuries or illnesses, like sprains and minor burns. They're staffed by physicians and care teams. If you are advised to follow up with your primary care provider, please do so within the recommended time frame.

Urgent care clinics often require a copayment and/or coinsurance that's usually higher than an office visit. Walk-in patients are welcome, but waiting periods may be longer as patients with more urgent needs may be treated first.

Emergency room

For immediate treatment of life-threatening injuries or illnesses and other critical conditions.

Cost: $2,200 per average visit1

Hours: 24/7

Wait time: 2 hours on average2

Care providers: Physicians and care teams

Do not ignore an emergency. Take action if a situation seems life-threatening. Head to your nearest emergency room or call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number right away. If you are advised to follow up with your primary care provider, please do so within the recommended time frame.

Emergency room visits often require a much higher copayment and/or coinsurance than an office visit or urgent care visit. Emergency rooms are always open, but waiting periods may be longer because patients with life-threatening emergencies may be treated first.

Is urgent care right for me?

Urgent care clinics can treat a wide variety of symptoms, including:

  • Low back pain
  • Painful urination
  • Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation
  • Minor cuts and puncture wounds (head, hands, fingers)
  • Headache and migraines
  • Skin rash
  • Muscle pain or strain in the low back, knee, ankle, foot, wrist, shoulder or neck
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Nose bleeds

For minor health care needs, see a doctor online now

If your condition isn't urgent, you can connect with a doctor anytime day or night.