Don't give up going to the ER for allergic reactions, bone fractures, deep cuts or other injuries, heart attack and stroke symptoms, and anything else that seems life-threatening.
Ways to save: In noncritical situations where you can't wait until your doctor can see you—bladder infections, bronchitis, sinusitis, strep, and deer tick bites, for example—try one of the roughly 1,200 retail health clinics springing up in drugstores and at Walmart, Target, and other stores. The clinics are staffed by nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and in some cases MDs. Most insurers cover such visits (check with your plan before you need urgent care), and the co-pay will be less than you would shell out for an ER visit. Even if you don't have health insurance, the $40 to $70 fee may be less than your doctor's fee and is considerably cheaper than the typical cost of a trip to the emergency room.