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Where can you get expert answers – especially in the middle of the night?
The internet is certainly one source lots of people turn to. Still, most questions are better answered by a health professional. Our “cough-and-click” culture can easily fall victim to misinformation. And self-diagnosis usually misses the mark when it comes to accurately honing in on any health condition you may have or not have.
When it comes to your health, a health care professional is always a smart first call – even after your doctor’s office hours.
Many primary care doctors have an after-hours number you can call. There is a doctor or nurse on call to check messages. Ask your doctor’s office how after-hours calls are handled. Then add the after-hours phone number to your phone’s contacts list.
Most HMO plans require medical offices to have after-hours service. If you have an HMO plan, start there to ensure you’re paying the least amount of out-of-pocket costs.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois members with a PPO plan can talk to a registered nurse by calling the 24/7 Nurseline. The number is listed on your member ID card. When you call, you’ll be connected with a registered nurse – anytime you call, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You’ll be able to talk in detail about your health issue. The nurse will let you know if there is something you can do at home, or what your other options are for immediate care.
Our nurses can help you and your covered family members with health problems, such as:
Plus, when you call, you’ll have access to an audio library of more than 300 health topics on a broad range of topic in English and in Spanish.
The 24/7 Nurseline can also refer you to Disease Management or Case Management, if you qualify.
With our 24/7 Nurseline, you get the information you need, when you need it. Add the number listed on the back of your ID card to your phone contacts so it’s always at your fingertips.
What if you have a health issue that needs attention, but isn’t an emergency? If you can’t see your regular care provider, some telehealth companies offer round-the-clock access to a health professional by phone or video chat.
Another option might be a local urgent care center. Along with weekend hours, many are open late. Just make sure “Emergency” doesn’t appear on the outside of the building. If it does, that means it is a stand-alone emergency room that might not be in your network. You could end up paying higher out-of-pocket costs for care you receive there. In fact, it’s always good to make sure any care provider and care facility you visit is in-network.
Of course, when it is an emergency, you should always call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.
The U.S. Library of Medicine lists these and more as health issues you should consider an emergency:
Learn more about where to go for care.
Originally published 5/28/2015; Revised 2019, 2023
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