When an illness or injury pops up, we all have the same thought — time to see a doctor. Knowing exactly where to go for care can be a feat in and of itself. Before you head for those long ER wait times, ask yourself a few simple questions:
Is it severe enough for the emergency room?
Can this be covered in an urgent care appointment?
Would a virtual consultation be sufficient?
The best health insurance companies arm you with knowledge that informs you in your healthcare decisions, not confuses you. Let’s discuss the distinctions between virtual urgent care, in-person urgent care, and the emergency room. Curative members have access to a wide variety of services through the affordable, transparent, high-quality health insurance Texas, Florida and other states deserve. From a painful sunburn to an emergency allergic reaction, knowing where to go when a health concern arises saves time and money — and may save your life.
It’s important to start with understanding what’s urgent, and what’s not. Often, an appointment with your primary care physician is the appropriate way to receive health care. Your primary care doctor can provide routine check-ups, preventive care, and management of your ongoing chronic health conditions. Appropriate and timely preventive care often heads off situations where an urgent care call is warranted.
Ideally, the clinician you see for your annual health check-up is someone you can develop a trusting relationship with. You can find in-network physicians here.
Some things to consider when visiting your primary care physician (PCP):
Continuity of Care: building long-term doctor-patient relationships is valuable. It’s important to have a PCP who understands your health history.
Personalized Attention: your PCP can provide tailored advice and treatment plans, whereas an urgent care physician won’t have the depth of knowledge regarding your history.
Cost-Effectiveness: often, visiting your PCP can be much less expensive than ER visits for non-emergent cases.
Referral Network: your PCP can refer you to a specialist when needed. Urgent and ER care cannot.
Virtual urgent care visits are the most convenient way to speak to a healthcare professional. As a Curative member, all you need is a smartphone, tablet, or computer with a reliable internet connection to meet with a high-quality doctor from the comfort of your home. To avoid exposure in a crowded clinic, care for a young child, or save the time of an in-person appointment, virtual appointments are a great option for non-emergency health issues such as:
Cold and flu
Minor skin issues
Patients can access medical advice and consultations through virtual urgent care for:
Managing a chronic condition
Reviewing test or lab results
Requesting prescription refills
Behavioral health issues, including depression, anxiety, and ADHD
Virtual urgent care can save time and money so you can get healthier faster. However, virtual urgent care is not for every situation. You may require more serious treatment or inspection than a virtual appointment can provide, so it’s important to use your best judgment to determine the care you need.
Sometimes, you may need to visit an urgent care in person for non-life-threatening medical concerns that still need prompt medical attention including:
Minor fractures and sprains
Moderate cuts and burns
Minor infections, such as ear infections
Urgent, but non-emergency situations
Additional reasons why a visit to an urgent care clinic may be the right option:
A physical exam seems necessary.
A condition worsens.
Urgent care clinics are designed to quickly diagnose and treat minor/moderate health concerns quickly and are equipped with the resources and expertise to get you back to everyday living. By knowing when to choose urgent care for non-emergent cases, members skip the long wait times, reduce the burden on ERs, and receive high-quality care in a safe setting.
Though the ER is the last place you want to be on a normal day, it’s the first place you should be in a medical emergency.
Brad Uren, an emergency physician at Michigan Medicine, explains that if you believe a medical issue puts your or a family member’s life, limb, or body function at risk, call 911 and head to the nearest ER right away. Signs and symptoms of a medical emergency include:
Sudden and severe headache
High fever with confusion
Severe, persistent abdominal pain
Signs of a heart attack, such as chest pain and dizziness
Signs of a stroke, such as facial droop, weakness in the arms or legs, and altered or loss of consciousness
Signs of severe allergic reactions, such as difficulty breathing or swelling of the face/throat
Other forms of major trauma or injury
Medical emergencies are just that — emergencies. Don’t talk yourself out of seeking emergency care because you think someone else’s condition may be worse. Your health is your life, and you deserve care if you need it. “These conditions are time-sensitive, meaning the more time that passes, the more brain or heart tissue may be permanently damaged. Don't delay care,” Uren said.
Knowing which ER you’ll head to in the case of a medical emergency is vital to getting the right care. Your nearest ER may be a freestanding emergency department (FSED), which is different than the ER that typically comes to mind. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, an FSED is a licensed facility that is structurally separate and distinct from a hospital and provides emergency care. An FSED is not connected to a hospital, meaning it can’t admit critically ill patients or perform surgery. Plan ahead so you know exactly where to get the best care when an emergency strikes.
Curative will help members get the proper care at the right time. Curative equips members with comprehensive coverage and the knowledge to use it. Consider urgent care if your condition isn’t critical and can safely wait. If the condition is related to an ongoing, non-emergency issue, you could receive more personalized care by scheduling an appointment with your PCP who is more familiar with your medical history. If you’re unsure whether your condition is a medical emergency, and it doesn’t fall under the list above, consider consulting a healthcare professional via virtual urgent care first.
This blog serves as a general guideline for knowing where to seek care for a medical concern, and recommendations may vary based on your specific situation, location, and available healthcare resources. If you are unsure about the severity of a medical issue, seek emergency care. For non-emergency situations, consider discussing your symptoms with a healthcare professional through virtual urgent care to determine the appropriate course of action.
Curative is a health plan that employees and employers will love. Our plan focuses on affordability, engagement, and simplicity, so people feel confident getting the care they need, when they need it. Imagine — a health plan that actually delivers better health.
People shouldn’t avoid doctor visits out of fear of surprise medical bills. After completing a Baseline Visit in the first 120 days of joining Curative, one monthly premium will enable:
$0 out-of-pocket fees
$0 preferred prescriptions
$0 deductibles for in-network care
Curative builds engagement with employees from day one by facilitating trusted relationships with a Baseline Visit and Care Navigator. Members complete a Baseline Visit within 120 days of their plan’s effective date to create an individualized, preventive care plan with a Curative Care Navigator to reach their health and wellness goals. We also ensure members are connected to our large and inclusive provider network.
Curative makes care management virtually stress-free. The Curative Pharmacy partners with a national network of pharmacies and offers same-day delivery (for select cities)*. Members can access virtual urgent care in partnership with NormanMD in less than 10 minutes via messaging, audio, or video chat.
No copays. No deductibles. No...really. Curative is changing the way we view health insurance with a health plan that actually delivers health.
*Delivery as soon as same-day available in select cities. Same-day delivery available in Austin and San Antonio areas. Next-day delivery available in Houston and Dallas/Ft Worth with same-day deliveries coming soon.
** Patients experiencing a medical emergency should call 911 (or the local emergency number) immediately.
Dive into how the best health insurance companies guide members in important healthcare decision-making by visiting here.
To see all disclaimers, please view here.
Is virtual or in-person care right for you? (28 Apr 2021). University of Utah Health. https://healthcare.utah.edu/healthfeed/2021/04/virtual-or-person-care-right-you#:~:text=Patients%20can%20speak%20with%20an,aren%27t%20life%2Dthreatening.
Khairat, S. (12 Jan 2021). Evaluation of patient experience during virtual and in-person urgent care visits: time and cost analysis. J Patient Exp. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8205332/
How parents & guardians can use virtual urgent care for kids. (21 Jul 2023). NYU Langone Health. https://nyulangone.org/news/how-parents-guardians-can-use-virtual-urgent-care-kids
Bickley, D and A. Isabell. (1 May 2023). What’s the difference between the ER and urgent care? https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/health-and-wellness-articles/when-to-go-to-the-emergency-room-vs-an-urgent-care-clinic
Fromson, N. (30 Sept 2021). Long wait at the emergency room? What to consider before heading in. Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan. https://www.michiganmedicine.org/health-lab/long-wait-emergency-room-what-consider-heading
Should you go to the emergency room (ER), urgent care or doctor’s office? (5 Jul 2023). UC Davis Health. https://health.ucdavis.edu/blog/cultivating-health/should-you-go-to-the-emergency-room-urgent-care-or-doctors-office/2023/07
Henderson, E. (6 Mar 2023). Virtual or in person: Which kind of doctor’s visit is better, and when it matters. News Medical Life Sciences. https://www.news-medical.net/news/20230306/Virtual-or-in-person-Which-kind-of-doctore28099s-visit-is-better-and-when-it-matters.aspx
Freestanding emergency departments. (Last revised Apr 2020). American College of Emergency Physicians. https://www.acep.org/patient-care/policy-statements/freestanding-emergency-departments