Ask the managing editor: What is the difference between urgent care centers and free-standing ERs?

With so many different health care facilities to consider when we need medical care, it’s important to stay informed of the differences.

Minor illnesses, such as sore throats, upper respiratory symptoms and flu-like symptoms, as well as basic broken bones or cuts can be treated at an urgent care center, said Dr. Robert Hitchcock, executive vice president for Dallas-based T-System. Hitchock said health care consumers will likely have an average copay of $25-$50, depending on their insurance coverage.

Retail clinics such as H-E-B RediClinics and CVS MinuteClinics can also treat minor illnesses with similar copays, Hitchcock said.

Freestanding emergency rooms can have higher copays of around $100-$500 in addition to facility fees and operating fees, Hitchcock said. However, they offer equipment and physicians on-site 24/7 that are not typically found at urgent cares or retail clinics. They can treat open fractures, neck injuries, chest pains, stroke symptoms and other more serious ailments.
By Matt Stephens
Matt Stephens joined Community Impact Newspaper in December 2012. A Tomball native and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Matt joined as a reporter for The Woodlands team before being promoted to help launch the Spring | Klein edition in spring of 2014 and later to North Houston managing editor in late 2015. He has served as managing editor to the Phoenix and Nashville papers since August 2020.


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