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ER? Urgent care? Telemedicine? At-home visit? Find the right care this holiday season.


The holidays can be chaotic, to put it mildly. So, what happens when you need medical care? Our guide has you covered.

The holidays are filled with time-honored rituals and new surprises—some good, some not so much. Big gatherings, close contact, unfamiliar surroundings, stress—the list goes on—can lead to unexpected illness or injury. Surges in three contagious viruses only add to the holiday hecticness.

So, should you need care, what’s the best course of action? Fortunately, you have options. And just as you are planning to give just the right gift or make the perfect holiday recipe, it helps to have a plan in place for care.  

Getting the right care can save you time and money. Depending on how significant your injury, illness or medical need is, you should first consider telemedicine, then urgent care, and, finally, an emergency room (ER).  Of course, in the case of a medical emergency never hesitate to call 911.

When is telemedicine right?

Sometimes the best place to get care is right where you are. A virtual visit with a doctor can handle many conditions for which people often go to an urgent care center (UCC) or even the ER such as the flu, sinus infections, bladder infections, or minor wounds or burns. None of these injuries or illnesses usually requires an in-person physical examination.

Eligible members can use Horizon CareOnline℠ to talk with a U.S. board-certified, licensed doctor via video, chat or phone, 24 hours a day, seven days a week with no appointment needed. You can also check with your own doctor to see if they offer virtual appointments.

A telemedicine visit can often cost less than an in-person visit, especially versus an ER visit.

A new option:  virtual+ home visit

With DocGo™On-Demand Mobile Health, a new in-network option for Horizon members, a full range of routine and urgent care is a virtual—and home—visit away. DocGo covers vaccinations to wound care and instant access to 30 of the most common prescription medications.

Here’s how it works: Visit docgo.com/ondemand or call (844) 44-DOCGO (844-443-6246). DocGo will schedule a virtual visit or house call within two hours’ time, on average. (You can also search for DocGo under telemedicine providers on the Horizon physician finder page.) If your virtual practitioner determines you need a home visit, he or she will send a health care provider to your home who can administer tests and treat you in person.

If your care team determines you need a higher level of care, they will refer you to the in-network hospital that can best meet your needs. In most cases, you will pay no more in out-of-pocket costs for DocGo than you would for a visit to a specialist.

When is urgent care right?

UCCs have one purpose: to treat patients who have an injury or illness that requires immediate care but doesn’t rise to the level of an ER visit. UCCs are helpful when you need to interact physically with a doctor, such as receiving stitches for a cut.

Typically, UCCs are as close to your home as a local hospital ER (or closer) and are staffed by medical professionals who can treat and discharge you in significantly less time than the ER. Find a UCC near you on Horizon Doctor & Hospital Finder.

Why use the ER?

If you have a life-threatening condition, go to the ER. ERs are open 24/7, unlike UCCs, which do not offer around-the-clock care. Most local hospitals have an ER.

Due to the level of care that an ER offers, visiting an ER can be a lot more expensive than going to a UCC. According to the nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute, the average ER visit cost was $1,055 in 2019, increasing 57% from 2012 to 2019. Depending on your specific plan, you could be responsible for hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars in out-of-pocket costs for an ER visit.

 There’s nothing pleasant about being sick or injured, especially during the holidays. But paying less out-of-pocket, while waiting less time to get treated, can take a lot of the sting out of your health care experience.

Horizon Health News is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

DocGo™is a registered trademark of Ambulnz Inc. DocGo is independent from and not affiliated with Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

Horizon CareOnline℠ is a service mark of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.