Emergency and Urgent Care

In a life-threatening emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number. If you are unable to do so, ask someone to call for you or to take you to the nearest emergency care facility. You may go to any hospital in your area for emergency care.

In other situations when you think you need immediate medical attention, urgent care may be most appropriate.

When Should You Use Urgent Care?

Urgent care is for conditions that require prompt attention but do not pose an immediate, serious threat to your health or life. Examples include an increasingly painful ear infection or a sprained ankle. You do not need an appointment for urgent care.

For urgent care during business hours, call your personal physician's office or the Consulting Nurse Service to get immediate advice. For urgent care after business hours, on weekends, or on holidays, call the Consulting Nurse. The nurse will listen to your concerns and direct you to the most appropriate care.

Six Group Health clinics have Urgent Care Centers, most with evening, weekend, and holiday hours. Urgent Care Centers at the Bellevue Medical Center, Capitol Hill Campus in Seattle, and Tacoma Medical Center are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Use our Provider Directory to find urgent care providers in other areas.

When Should You Use Emergency Care?

Use emergency care for sudden, unexpected medical conditions that, in the reasonable judgment of a prudent lay person, would endanger a person's life or seriously harm the person's health if not treated immediately by a licensed medical professional.

Emergency medical conditions include:

  • Suspected heart attack or stroke
  • Sudden or extreme difficulty breathing 
  • Bleeding that will not stop or deep cuts 
  • Major burns 
  • Seizures 
  • Sudden and severe headache or abdominal pain 
  • Poisoning or suspected poisoning 

Coverage for Emergency Care and Ambulance Services

Most emergency room visits require a copayment. You may have to pay deductibles, coinsurance, or copayments. If you use an emergency room for nonemergency services, Group Health will not cover your care. You will be fully responsible for any costs. Check your coverage agreement to find out about your coverage and costs for emergency care.

Your coverage includes ambulance services in an emergency or when your Group Health doctor orders or approves it. You pay any deductibles and coinsurance. Group Health does not cover ambulance services in nonemergency, urgent situations unless approved by your doctor in advance. Check your coverage agreement for details.

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