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The TRUE Cost of Freestanding Emergency Rooms and Why an Urgent Care Center is Your Best Option

medical costs

With numerous freestanding emergency rooms opening up across the U.S., you should be advised that if you seek medical care at one of these centers, it will come at a high cost.

A freestanding emergency room is simply an ER that is not attached to the hospital. These centers attempt to make it faster and more convenient for patients to receive care, as opposed to waiting to see their regular doctor. In many cases, freestanding ERs are mistaken for urgent care centers or regular ERs. But be advised — they are not! And the harsh reality comes in the form of a bill. 

According to a recent article from UnitedHealth Group, freestanding ERs bill their patients 22 times more for the same services provided at an urgent care center or a regular ER.  

The Extreme Cost of Visiting a Freestanding Emergency Room

With hundreds of freestanding emergency rooms opening up across Texas, first-time patients are learning the brutal realities behind the true cost of these easily-accessible facilities.

The centers are primarily opening in the suburbs or areas with fewer medical options but even in a growing city such as El Paso, we’re witnessing the influx as this medical niche is becoming increasingly popular.

Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare has two freestanding ERs. Sun City Emergency Room, which is not affiliated with a hospital, is considered a freestanding ER and the University Medical Center is planning to open up to three freestanding ERs, one in the Northeast and two with undecided locations.

In cities where freestanding ERs are blending in as regular emergency centers, residents are learning the realities of seeking care at these centers. According to an article from Colorado Public Radio, one family was billed $6,400 for a visit to a local freestanding ER in Arvada, CO. after taking their two-year-old in for head injury. In another similar but costlier case, a woman in Houston racked-up $15,000 in medical charges after going in for symptoms of dizziness, which turned out to be fluid in her ears.

The unsettling reality is that if these patients had visited an urgent care center or their primary doctor, the charges would have dropped by 95%.     

An Urgent Care Center Dedicated to Providing Transparency

As an urgent care center, this topic matters to us greatly. We are 100% committed to making our prices transparent and consumer-friendly. The stark difference of a freestanding ER vs. an urgent care clinic such as Country Club Urgent Care is roughly $3,217 vs $167 (on average).

Our goal is for you to understand that when it comes to medical care, in the majority of cases, you can visit an urgent care center and receive the same medical care.

UnitedHealth found that the most common reasons for visits to freestanding emergency centers in Texas were for acute bronchitis, fevers, sore throat, coughs, and respiratory infections, all of which are considered nonemergency. The worst about this finding is that these patients could have visited an urgent care center and paid a fraction of the cost.

You’re looking at a bill in the thousands when you visit a freestanding ER. Whereas at an urgent care clinic, the highest out of pocket expense averages $167.

At Country Club Urgent Care Center, we provide medical emergency services at the most affordable rates. Take a look at our pricing list:

Country Club Urgent Care Center

Be Cautious and Always Ask Questions

When it comes to nonemergency situations if you are seeking care from a center you’ve never visited, be sure to ask whether they are considered a freestanding emergency room. In these situations, you are generally better off visiting an urgent care center. You will receive the same professional and diligent care without the fear of high costs.

If you have questions regarding this topic, please connect with us today. We are happy to assist you better understand the cost of healthcare related to the services we provide. Remember, our goal is to provide all of El Paso with affordable medical services.


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