Emergency room, 911, or urgent care?
You have options outside of the emergency room during a health scare.Know where to go!
Why this matters to you
A sudden health scare needs the right kind of care. Life-threatening problems need emergency care. For situations like broken bones, scrapes, and minor ailments, you can usually go to urgent care. The key is knowing where to go when you need care quickly. The right type of care will result in a better experience.Get help now if you're in crisis
This page is for
- Family members and caregivers
- All Veterans
What you can do
Emergency room, 911, or urgent care?
Emergency and urgent care are different types of care, not just different levels of the same care. For life-threatening injuries or symptoms, call 911 or go to the emergency room. Less than life-threatening injuries or symptoms can be treated at a VA facility or by in-network urgent care providers.
VA Emergency Care
Emergency care is needed to prevent death, disability or permanent health effects. Go to the emergency room or call 911 for injuries and symptoms like head injury, severe chest pain, seizures or loss of awareness, heavy uncontrollable bleeding, or moderate to severe burns. find your nearest urgent care location
Urgent Care - Community Care
If your problem does not threaten your life or risk disabling you, but you cannot see your provider quickly enough, go to an urgent care clinic. VA or community urgent care providers can deal with less-than-life-threatening needs in less time than most emergency rooms.
VA or community emergency treatment is your first choice for injuries or ailments that threaten your life, limbs, or organs. If you have any question about how serious your condition is, or if you cannot wait, call 911.
Download community urgent care resources
Learn more about how to get urgent care in VA and in your community
How to get urgent careDownload (PDF)
Urgent care assistance cards for VeteransDownload (PDF)
Urgent care & same-day services fact sheetDownload (PDF)
Frequently asked questions
Individual health conditions are complex and unique to each Veteran. As a result, and to encourage Veterans to seek care when they need it, VA does not publish a specific list of covered services. Preventive care and dental services are excluded.
To find a participating urgent care clinic or provider, use the VA Facility Locator. There are currently two types of urgent care network locations: walk-in retail health clinics and urgent care centers. Seek care at a retail location for an uncomplicated illness, such as a sore throat. Visit an urgent location for more pressing illnesses or injuries requiring services, such as splinting, casting, or wound treatment.
To find a participating urgent care clinic or provider, use the VA Facility Locator.
Bring a valid, government-issued photo ID to the in-network urgent care location/pharmacy. When you arrive, verify the provider is part of VA’s contracted network, complete the intake form, and tell the provider you would like to use your VA urgent care benefit.
The provider will check your eligibility. If the provider is in AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, PR, RI, SC, SD, TN, VA, VI, VT, WI, or WV (also referred to as Regions 1,2, and 3), they will call 888-901-6609 to confirm you are eligible. In AK, AS, AZ, CA, CO, GU, HI, ID, MP, MT, NM, NV, OR, TX, UT, WA, or WY (also referred to as Regions 4,5, and 6), the provider will call 833-4VETNOW 833-483-8669).
If you arrive at an urgent care located in AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, PR, RI, SC, SD, TN, VA, VI, VT, WI, or WV (also referred to as Regions 1, 2, and 3), and have issues, you can call 888-901-6609 for assistance.
If you arrive at an urgent care located in AK, AS, AZ, CA, CO, GU, HI, ID, MP, MT, NM, NV, OR, TX, UT, WA, or WY (also referred to as Regions 4, 5, and 6), and have issues, you can call 866-620-2071 for assistance.
No. You do not have to pay anything at the time of the visit. If you owe a copayment, VA will send you a bill. Copayments are $30, but your liability will depend on your assigned priority group and the number of times you have used your urgent care benefit in a calendar year. Learn more about urgent care copayments.
Veterans may be charged a copayment for urgent care that is different from other VA medical copayments.
Copayments depend on the Veteran’s assigned priority group and the number of times an urgent care provider is visited in a calendar year.
Copayment charges are billed separately by VA as part of VA’s billing process. There is no limit to the number of times a Veteran can go to an urgent care provider.
VA will pay for or fill prescriptions for urgent care. For routine prescription medication longer than a 14-day supply, the prescription must be submitted to VA to be filled. Before filling the prescription, VA will verify the urgent care visit.
If there are issues filling your prescription in AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, PR, RI, SC, SD, TN, VA, VI, VT, WI or WV, call 888-901-6609 for assistance. In AK, AS, AZ, CA, CO, GU, HI, ID, MP, MT, NM, NV, OR, TX, UT, WA or WY, call 866-620-2071.
Contact your local VA medical facility to discuss options. Same-day primary and mental health services are available at all VA medical centers. In addition, VA continues to expand its contracted network of urgent care providers so that most Veterans are within a 30-minute drive time from their home to a network urgent care/retail location.
If you are having difficulties receiving urgent care services, contact your local VA medical facility. Same-day primary and mental health services are available at all VA medical centers. If you believe your life or health is in danger, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department immediately. Please note that VA can only pay for a Veteran’s emergency care under certain conditions.
For more information, visit the Emergency Care page.
No. Urgent care is not a replacement for services your primary care provider (PCP) offers. Use urgent care for treating minor, non-emergent illnesses and injuries. The urgent care benefit does not cover preventive health care offered by your primary care physician. Always consider talking with or seeing your PCP if you are concerned that the urgent care provider will not understand the complexities of your medical history or medications.
Urgent care is for non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries, such as strep throat, pink eye or a strained muscle. Emergency care is for an injury, illness or symptom so severe that a prudent layperson reasonably believes that delay in seeking immediate medical attention would be hazardous to life or health. Such life-threatening major illnesses or injuries could include severe chest pain, seizures, loss of awareness, heavy uncontrollable breathing or severe burns. For emergency care, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Please note that VA can only pay for a Veteran’s emergency care under certain conditions.
For more information, visit Choosing between urgent and emergency care.
Learn more about related VA benefits
Find out what benefits you may be eligible for during service and which time-sensitive benefits to consider when separating or retiring.