Many insurance companies have free 24-hour hotlines where you can talk to a healthcare provider over the phone. Providers can give you advice about what treatment you may need and if you should see a doctor right away.
You can also call your clinic; there might be an opening for you to come in the same day. If you’re calling after hours, doctors are also on call at night and may be able to help you over the phone.
If your clinic cannot fit you in, and you need to be seen right away, you can go to an urgent care clinic. Urgent care doesn’t require an appointment and usually takes less time than the emergency room. Urgent care clinics can treat coughs, sore throats, fevers, earaches, headaches, rashes, sprains, and minor injuries, cuts and burns.
If the urgent care clinic is closed and you need same-day treatment, you can go to the hospital emergency room. Typically, the wait to get care will be longer and more expensive, so using the other options first is recommended for most illnesses.
Don’t forget that if you think you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 or go directly to the emergency room.
Put important numbers in your cell phone
Being prepared will help you get the best care when it’s needed. Covering Wisconsin advises that you collect all the important contact numbers you need before you get sick. Space to record the contact numbers is provided on I’m Sick Where Do I Go for Care? along with the steps to be ready before you or a family member become sick.
Keep these tips in mind:
—Call your insurance company’s member services number.
—Ask if they have a 24-hour nurse hotline.
—Find out what urgent care clinics near your work or home are covered in your plan.
—Learn what hospitals in your city are covered in your plan.
—Write down all the names, numbers and hours of any doctors or other medical professionals. Put these numbers into your cell phone.