Care When and Where You Need It

Know When to Choose
Primary Care, Urgent Care, or the ER

Because we’re founded by physicians, we understand the importance of having access to your primary care physician to maintain better health. What if you can’t see your primary care physician (PCP) because it’s after hours or the office is closed on a weekend?

The emergency room is often the first place that comes to mind when someone needs immediate medical attention. But did you know that urgent care can be the better choice in many situations? Did you get stung by a jelly fish, or bitten by a shark? Did that surfing accident leave you with a sprained ankle, or a broken leg? Familiarize yourself with available care options so you can make an informed decision on where to go.

Finding a provider for non-emergency care is easy via the UHA mobile site or

Choose Primary Care for:

  • Regular check-ups
  • Prescriptions
  • Non-emergency issues


Choose Urgent Care for:

  • Prescription refills
  • Work notes
  • Minor illnesses or injuries
  • Symptoms of a chronic problem for which you are currently being treated
  • Conditions for which you have already visited your PCP
  • Follow-up visit for a condition which has already been treated (ex: removing stitches from a previous ER visit)


Choose the ER for serious or life-threatening conditions, including:

  • Serious injuries (broken bones, poisoning, head trauma, etc.)
  • New or worsening symptoms (severe allergic reaction, trouble breathing, convulsions, etc.)
  • Symptoms from serious medical conditions (such as uncontrolled diabetes, asthma or heart disease) that your doctor has told you to be concerned about
  • Emergent concerns after discharge from a recent hospitalization or surgery


Emergency and Urgent Care While Traveling:

Unfortunately, medical issues sometimes happen when traveling, and you may need to seek emergency or urgent care outside of Hawaii.

  • An urgent care center is usually a good option for things like prescription refills and minor illnesses, while the emergency room is the place to go for serious or life-threatening health issues. Learn more about emergency and urgent care here.

  • For all medical services on the mainland, UHA contracts with First Health, a national network of hospitals and healthcare providers, to make sure you have access to healthcare across the U.S.

  • If you have a medical emergency while you're on the Mainland, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room and get care right away. Once your condition is stable, call UHA at 808-532-4000 or toll-free at 800-458-4600 to let us know you’ve received emergency care and/or have been admitted to a hospital.

  • If you have an unexpected illness or injury while you're traveling, and it's not life threatening, but it also can’t wait until you can get home and see your primary care physician, go to a First Health urgent care center. If you are treated at an urgent care center outside of the First Health network, you'll have to pay more. Call UHA to find an approved urgent care center in your area.

  • When traveling outside of the United States, only emergency medical services will be covered. Traveling to a foreign country for the purpose of receiving services is not a covered benefit, even if referred by your physician. For more details click here. To make sure you have adequate coverage while you're abroad, you may want to consider purchasing travel insurance.

  • For more travel tips click here.


Understanding your available care options is important for everyone in our community

When only those with true emergencies go to the ER, the department can operate efficiently, providing life-saving care to those who need it. If you know with 100% certainty that you are experiencing a non-emergency, choose an urgent care center—you’ll receive faster, more tailored service; avoid unnecessary costs; and allow ER doctors to focus their attention on saving lives.

Additional Resources