The Ultimate Urgent Care vs Emergency Room Cheat Sheet

The urgent care vs. emergency room debate has intensified in the last few years. Many people still use the ER as their go-to when they need a doctor, but as urgent care facilities grow in number, more and more average Americans are discovering the clear advantages of urgent care facilities. To that end, we’ve created this blog as an urgent care vs. emergency room cheat sheet.

Three C’s of Medical Care

Let’s examine the big 3 Cs of medical care (cost, convenience and care responsiveness), and you can decide for yourself. These three elements of medical care can help you to choose between the pros and cons of each. These three aspects are among the most significant to individuals who are deciding between visiting an urgent care center and an emergency room:


If you’re looking to save money with medical care expenses, the cost of urgent care is big advantage. Because most immediate care centers don’t have the excessive bureaucracy and red tape built in to their fee structure, patients can expect up to 60% savings when it comes to Urgent care vs ER care. Plus, UC centers will work with each patient (even if they lack insurance) to create a payment plan.

Emergency rooms may be able to provide more comprehensive services for various emergencies (for extreme cases), which is another reason that emergency visits can cost a lot more. When you are visiting an emergency room, you are essentially paying a premium for high quality medical treatment, even if your medical situation is not serious.

However, for the average person, most medical visits can be completed at an urgent care center, meaning you can save a lot of money by choosing Urgent Care Extra. You’ll avoid paying unnecessary fees at an emergency room when you can get the same procedure or treatment completed in an urgent care center.

Urgent care vs emergency room cost will vary based on your personal needs, but urgent care centers are much cheaper across the board, meaning you will get to save money in the long run.


This is a close contest. Emergency rooms have express parking, relatively short trips to the triage, and 24 hour service. But they are simply not as fast as urgent care. UC facilities are drive-up and walk-in – no parking tickets to validate, no additional waiting, no peripheral hospital hustle and bustle. And you’re treated on a first come, first served basis, often seven days a week.

The only time an emergency room can beat an urgent care center in convenience is when an urgent care center has closed for the night or has not yet opened for the day. If your accident or medical situation is serious enough that you need to find medical attention immediately, then the emergency room can help.

However, if your situation is urgent but not classified as an emergency and can wait out the pain or discomfort, then visiting an urgent care center will be ideal to save money or to save time from having to travel all the way to an emergency room.

Care Responsiveness

Everyone has been to the emergency room. And everyone has experienced the waiting. And more waiting. At a typical urgent care facility, you simply walk in and receive care. Even with increased patient rolls as urgent care centers become more popular, the quick yet concise medical attention is a major reason people choose urgent care.

Urgent Care Extra also has numerous locations across different cities. If your situation allows it, you can even call ahead to schedule an appointment or to check on the wait time. You may find it better to travel to the second closest location for treatment in less time if the first location is busy.

In both cases, urgent care still trumps a visit to the emergency room when it comes to responsiveness to your medical needs.

 How Do I Choose Between Urgent Care and the Emergency Room?

Now keep in mind, an emergency room is still recommended if you have a potentially life-threatening medical emergency or are disposed to certain trauma or stresses based on your condition. That’s not up for debate. However, when it comes to ailments and accidents like regular bumps and bruises, colds, nausea and even ongoing treatment, urgent care is fast becoming the popular choice.

You should visit an emergency room if you experience any of the following:

  • Heart attacks
  • Stroke
  • Severe bleeding incidents
  • Open fractures
  • Weakness/numbness on one side of the body
  • Injury or trauma to the head
  • Losing consciousness or fainting
  • Extreme abdominal pain
  • Newborns with a fever
  • Extreme burns
  • Seizures
  • Vision loss (or vision changes)

If you feel that a medical situation may require medical professionals, never hesitate to call 911 for assistance. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

As our blog has chronicled, there are plenty of other reason to choose urgent care. And if you’re in the Arizona area, one system stands above all the rest: Urgent Care Extra. We have a responsive & robust network (over 30 locations and growing), ready to help today. With the exception of life threatening situations, Urgent Care Extra comes out on top when it’s a matter of urgent care vs ER visits.

If you need to know when to use urgent care vs. ER visits or to learn more about UCE, please call (480) 840-3075. Or, contact our urgent care consultants via email at [email protected] Thanks for reading the UCE blog!

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