This is getting to be challenging at times with consumers knowing which is which and for that reason some of them are imageopening up next to each other or in the same building.  Folks are mistakenly going to a free standing ER, where they can get care but it’s going to cost a lot more than an Urgent Care Center. 

Minor care needs should be referred to an Urgent care center but that doesn’t always happen and people get surprised with some very large bills.  Even a respiratory therapist made that mistake and she’s in the business.  The situation in Texas with a couple of firms seems to have caught quite a few people off guard and competition is driving it of course.  BD 

COLLEYVILLE — A First Choice emergency medical center popped up here last year where a Blockbuster Video outlet once stood, near a strip center with an Albertsons supermarket, a Subway sandwich shop and a UPS store.

Where customers once lined up to rent Finding Nemo, they can now be whisked before a doctor before even finishing their paperwork. The gleaming new facility has the latest equipment, from a CT scanner to a portable X-ray. An in-house lab provides quick test results. There are free snacks and a Keurig coffee machine, and a well-appointed children’s examining room that has an original undersea wall mural and cartoons on the TV.

Critics of the doctor- and investor-owned ER centers recommend greater cost transparency to avoid sticker shock when the bill arrives.

Patients who aren’t experiencing a life-threatening emergency should be told in advance that the facility is an ER, not an urgent-care center, said Stacey Pogue of the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, a nonprofit that analyzes healthcare and other issues affecting low- and moderate-income Texans.

For many families, the decision to go to a free-standing ER is driven by convenience.


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