Caring for a sick child can be overwhelming and scary. We’d do anything to help them feel better, and don't always know where to get the appropriate level of care for them. This page will provide resources about where to get care, as well as signs and symptoms to look out for. 

Care Options

The best place to start is often with a call to your health plan’s 24/7 nurse line. The nurse will ask you questions about how your child is doing and what symptoms they’re experiencing, and also offer advice on what to do next. This initial level of advice can help prevent expensive trips to the emergency room with your sick child. For example, a cough with a low-grade fever and congestion are symptoms best treated by non-emergency care.

Next steps might be waiting until your regular doctor’s office opens, utilizing telehealth from the comfort of your own home, a trip to urgent care, or in some instances a trip to the emergency room. 

Telehealth is a great, convenient option for receiving care. You can speak to a doctor, receive a diagnosis, and get a prescription from the comfort of home. 

For illnesses that can wait until the morning, you may be able to make a same-day appointment with your regular doctor’s office. This option offers the advantage of a clinic your child is familiar with, and one that is familiar with your child’s medical history.

For non-life threatening injuries or illnesses that can’t wait until your doctor’s office opens, visit your local urgent care.

While your young child is under the weather and can’t tell you what’s wrong, you may feel like the hospital emergency room will provide the quickest and best treatment. But in many cases, you can avoid the wait and busyness at the emergency room and look to other, more convenient medical care options first. A 2020 survey of State of Wisconsin Group Health Insurance members showed that 67% of emergency room visits could have been avoided altogether. Reserve the emergency room for serious, immediate medical needs.

If you’re not sure what your best option is, call your health plan’s nurse line for advice. Learn more about your care options with this video on the ETF website.