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Other Choices for Quick Care Besides the Emergency Room (ER)

Emergency rooms save lives – that's what they're for. But if you're dealing with a less threatening issue, getting care doesn't have to take so long or cost so much. You have choices, even when you need care right away.

Choices for When You Need Care Right Away

Call Your Doctor

In an urgent situation, someone at your doctor's office may be able to see you right away. If not, they can advise you about what action to take. Because they know you and have quick access to your medical records, they are in the best position to help. Many doctor's offices now take walk-in patients – yours may too.

Urgent Care Center

Urgent care centers are staffed by doctors who treat conditions that can’t wait but aren't life-threatening. These facilities often do X-rays, lab tests, and stitches. 

However, some urgent care centers that are run by hospitals sometimes bill urgent care as an ER visit. Find a non-hospital owned urgent care center near you and make a note of its location, just in case. Get a list of non-hospital based urgent care centers in Massachusetts.

Retail Health Clinic

For unexpected and minor illnesses and injuries, check out a retail health clinic. They are usually located in a pharmacy or retail store and staffed by healthcare professionals (nurse practitioners or physician assistants) who provide basic services to walk-in patients.

Emergency Room

The ER is there for you when you need it. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room when you or someone you know is in danger of permanent harm or death.

Additional Help with Deciding
Where to Get Care

Review this chart to better understand your options for urgent care. Each clinic or center may have different services available, so be sure to call and ask before you go.

Compare Your Copays

Compare copay costs between retail medical clinics, non-hospital-based urgent care centers, and emergency rooms.
  Retail Medical Clinic Non-Hospital-Based Urgent Care Center Emergency Room
Basic, PLUS, and
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Medicare Extension




Find an Urgent Care Center Near You

Ask your doctor to recommend an urgent care center or retail medical clinic in your area. You can also check the following resources.


Review our list of urgent care centers that are not hospital based where you will pay a $20 copay rather than a $100 emergency room visit copay.


Search for a contracted medical provider and choose "Urgent Care" in the “I’m looking for” field.