Health Advocate Blog

Choosing the right care for your summer health needs

When the sun is shining, the beach is calling, and summer is in full swing, the last thing you want to worry about is where to go for medical care. However, it’s important to be prepared for potential health concerns that may arise. When illness or injury strikes, it’s important to know where to seek care. Knowing your options can help you receive the right care at the right time as well as save you time, money, and worry.  

Primary Care Doctor

Your primary care doctor is the best resource for:

  • Preventive care
  • Non-urgent issues
  • Managing ongoing health conditions

Urgent Care Centers

Urgent care centers provide quick, convenient care for non-life-threatening conditions that need prompt attention. Visit an urgent care for:

  • Colds, sore throat, sinus issues
  • Sprains, strains, minor fractures
  • Cuts, scrapes, minor burns
  • Ear pain, pink eye

Get more information about urgent care centers here.

Emergency Room

The emergency room is for serious, life-threatening conditions that require immediate care. Call 911 or go to the ER for:

  • Severe burns, bleeding, or cuts
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest, jaw, or arm pain
  • Broken bones
  • Drooping of face; impaired speech or sight; confusion
  • Overdose on medications, alcohol, or other drugs

Keep in mind that the ER is open 24/7, but generally has the longest wait times and highest costs. Save the ER for true medical emergencies. Urgent care centers can quickly and efficiently treat issues like sprains, cuts, fevers and other non-life-threatening conditions at a fraction of the cost.

Plan ahead and check your network

In general, in-network care is more cost-effective than out-of-network care. Although emergencies tend to happen when we least expect them to, you can still do a little bit of planning in order to head off large medical bills.

  • Check with your insurance company to make sure your primary care doctor is still in-network. Look up urgent care centers and hospitals near you to see which ones are in-network with your insurance plan. Write them down and keep the list handy.
  • If you’re planning on traveling, before you head out, look up urgent care centers and hospitals near your destination and write down those that are in-network with your insurance plan.

While a true medical emergency may require you to visit the closest available hospital whether it’s in-network or not, doing a little research ahead of time can help you be less stressed and access cost-effective care more quickly if a less serious situation, like a summer cold, pops up.

Have a safe and healthy summer, and keep these tips in mind if you or a loved one should need medical attention.