Understanding regular vs. emergency health care


It’s almost always best to get routine care and recommended preventive services from a primary care provider. There are big differences between visits to your primary care provider and emergency care.

Image: Primary care vs. emergency care

When to see your primary care provider

  • You’ll see your primary care provider both when you’re sick and when you’re well for regular care. They’ll get to know you and help track your health over time.
  • You can get primary care providers in doctors’ offices, clinics, and health centers nationwide.
  • Before you schedule your first appointment, contact your health plan to see how much you’ll have to pay for a primary care visit. The copayment for your visit may cost you between $0 and $50.

When to seek emergency care

  • You should go to the emergency room only when you’re injured or very sick. You may wait several hours before you’re seen, and you’ll likely pay a larger copayment, co-insurance and have to meet your deductible before your health plan helps pay your costs.
  • Providers in the emergency room probably won’t have access to your health records.
  • Always in a life-threatening or emergency situation, call 9-1-1.

See other differences between regular and emergency care.



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