Insurance Basics

Save the ER visits for emergencies


Wondering why there always seems to be a wait in the emergency room? Or why you may have received an abnormally expensive bill from an ER in the past?

It’s often because ERs are filled with patients visiting for non-emergency reasons, such as addressing minor illnesses and injuries. ERs also have to be staffed and equipped with top-notch trauma teams and life-saving technologies. This is partly why visiting an ER could cost five times as much as visiting a Primary Care Physician (PCP), on average.

But in the case of an emergency, care is covered as in-network regardless of your network type. Outside of emergency situations, coverage varies by healthcare plan. This means that if the condition you’re visiting an ER for is not a potentially life-threatening emergency, your healthcare plan may not cover your ER visit in its entirety. So, if you were to visit an ER for a common cold, your bill may end up being much higher—whereas if you visit an ER in the case of a true emergency, such as a stroke, you may owe nothing out of pocket at all.

We understand that when an accident happens or something doesn’t feel quite right, there may not be much time to assess the right care options. That’s why it’s important to know when and where to go before any sudden illness or injury occurs.

One of the easiest ways to reduce your healthcare costs is simply receiving the right care for the moment. To help you decide where to go when the minutes matter, we’re breaking down your essential care options to help you make the right decision for your schedule, your wallet and, most important, your health.

Emergency room

Open 24/7

Highest average cost


Longer wait times

Best fit for life-threatening care

Visit if a sudden injury or illness appears to be life-threatening

Example: Heart attack or seizure

Urgent care

Open for extended care hours

Lower average cost

Walk-in or make an appointment

Some wait

Best fit for urgent medical needs

Visit if an injury or illness requires medical attention outside of business hours

Example: Sprain or stitches


Open during business hours

Lowest average cost

Make an appointment

Little to no wait

Best fit for routine care, injury or illness

Visit if an injury or illness does not require immediate medical attention

Example: Flu or minor infection

Your healthcare plan may cover each provider a little differently, so we recommend mapping out which providers around you are in-network and knowing how your plan covers care for each. As a Credence member, we’ve mapped out in-network providers for you so you can Find Care fast.

Suggested Articles

Related Assets