Urgent care options

Visiting the ER is time consuming and expensive. And, according to the New England Health Institute (NEHI), 56% of all visits are avoidable.

We all have minor illnesses and accidents. There are times when we need care right away, but the situation is not life threatening. Harvard Pilgrim offers a variety of options for you to get care in a different setting than the ER that will save you time and money.

What are your ER alternatives?

If you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest ER. Common medical emergencies that should be treated in an ER include:

  • Choking
  • Convulsions
  • Heart attack
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Major blood loss
  • Seizures
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Severe head trauma
  • Shock
  • Stroke

See if you can get a same-day appointment with your primary care provider (PCP).

If you seek care outside of your PCP's office, please request that the provider share documentation with your PCP to better manage your care.

Don’t have a PCP? Visit our provider lookup tool to search for PCPs near you.

With Doctor On Demand, you can get an urgent care virtual doctor visit from the comfort of your living room, using live video or voice call via your smartphone, tablet or computer.

Doctor On Demand connects you to a board-certified physician in minutes (availability is more limited during overnight hours) to receive treatment for illnesses or injuries that require immediate attention but are not life threatening.

Common symptoms treated:

  • Cold and flu
  • Asthma and allergies
  • Bronchitis
  • Sinus issues
  • Upset stomach
  • Rashes
  • Skin issues
  • UTIs
  • Eye issues

Our ER alternatives that are available virtually

Download the Doctor On Demand app to get started.

Download the app from Google Play or the Apple App Store


Typical out-of-pocket costs:

On most plans, members are responsible for paying the PCP office visit or lowest tier cost share for each visit. Referrals and/or authorizations are not required.

Available to Harvard Pilgrim members travelling internationally.1

Also known as walk-in clinics or retail clinics (such as MinuteClinic), convenience care clinics provide walk-in care for common illnesses. They are typically staffed by board-certified nurse practitioners and offer availability during evenings and weekends, seven days a week.1 And with countless locations, care is often closer than you think. Look up participating providers near you using our provider lookup tool.

Common symptoms treated include:

  • Bronchitis
  • Ear infections
  • Eye infections
  • Strep throat
  • Skin conditions like poison ivy and ringworm

Typical out-of-pocket costs:

This is a lower-cost alternative to an ER visit and you will be responsible for paying your retail/convenience care cost share.

Urgent care centers are walk-in freestanding facilities. 

Urgent care centers provide walk-in service and are typically staffed by physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Look up participating providers near you. They offer availability during evenings and weekends, seven days a week. 1

Common symptoms treated include:

  • Burns
  • Rashes
  • Bites
  • Cuts
  • Bruises
  • Infections
  • Coughs, cold and flu
  • Minor injuries
  • Respiratory infections
  • Sprains and strains

Typical out-of-pocket costs:

You’ll typically be responsible for paying a copayment for urgent care. The copayment will be higher than for an office visit or a convenience care visit. What you pay out-of-pocket depends on your specific Harvard Pilgrim plan. Please refer to your plan documents for your specific benefit information.


1 Urgent care virtual visits are available to members traveling internationally, excluding U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands) and certain other countries (e.g., nations on the U.S. Sanctions List. Physicians will not order prescriptions for patients calling from outside the U.S.