What's the difference between walk-in clinics and freestanding ERs?

Feb 8, 2017

Credit Travis Smith / Waxahachie Daily Light

Freestanding emergency clinics have proliferated across Texas in recent months. Texas is one of only three states to allow these walk-in ER clinics, including three new ones in Amarillo.

But it’s important to know the difference between these freestanding emergency rooms and traditional walk-in clinics.

The major difference, as many panhandle patients have learned the hard way, is cost.

As MyHighPlains.com reports, freestanding ER clinics will often bill patients at a much higher rate than a walk-in clinic. Recent examples from Facebook and Yelp reviews included a $1,200 bill for a strep throat diagnosis, and another $1,200 to be treated with antibiotic eye drops.

The ER is better for patients who are having a heart attack or stroke, or have received a blow to the head or a broken bone. For milder injuries like a puncture wound or bite, or a mild burn or infection, go to the clinic instead.