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Urgent Care vs. Emergency Care

Urgent Care or Emergency Care?

It’s important to know where to go when you need immediate medical care.

Your first thought may be to visit the emergency room (ER). If your condition isn’t life-threatening, you may choose a less expensive option by going to an urgent care center. An urgent care center provides quality care like an ER but can save you hundreds of dollars and may be more convenient.

IMPORTANT: If you have a life-threatening injury or illness, go to your nearest emergency room or call 911.

Urgent care centers handle non-life-threatening situations and are staffed by nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and doctors. Some locations have access to x-rays and labs on-site. Most are open late, on weekends, and on holidays. In the case of urgent care, it’s always a good idea to check the location and make sure it’s in our network.

Emergency rooms should be used for true life-threatening medical emergencies, and not routine care or minor ailments. They are equipped to handle trauma, x-rays, surgical procedures, and many other life-threatening situations. Most hospital emergency rooms are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To learn your cost-share amount for urgent care and emergency care, check your plan documents or ID card, or call the Customer Service number on the back of your ID card.

Urgent care centers can treat you for common non-emergency conditions, such as:
  • Earaches and infections
  • Minor cuts, sprains, and burns
  • Fever and flu symptoms
  • Cough, cold, and sore throat
  • Mild asthma
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Headaches
  • Back and joint pain
You should go to the ER if you are having:
  • Uncontrolled or severe bleeding
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Serious head, neck, or back injury
  • Heart attack, chest pain, or pressure
  • Loss of limb(s)
  • Seizure or loss of consciousness
  • Poisoning or overdose
  • Difficulty breathing or severe asthma attack
  • Severe cuts or major burns
  • Vomiting blood
Care Connect Nurse Advice Line

If you have questions about non-life-threatening injuries or illness, you can call the True Health New Mexico Care Connect Nurse Advice Line toll-free at 1-844-308-2552. You can speak to an experienced registered nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week.