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Where you go for after-hours care makes a difference. You may be in for a costly surprise if you visit a free-standing emergency room.
What are your options? Unless it is life threatening, an urgent care center is a good place to start.
They can handle problems that aren’t emergencies but also can’t wait, such as:
But beware of the potential added pain of high costs. Now there are freestanding ERs found in strip malls and other smaller buildings. They may look like a walk-in clinic or urgent care center. But they may charge prices more like a hospital ER.
You can pay more at a freestanding ER. They may not contract with your insurance company, potentially putting you at risk for greater out-of-pocket costs. They may say they take your health plan but leave out that you may not get "in network" benefits because the facility is out of network.
Remember: Where you go matters.Protect yourself by seeking care in the most right setting for the type of health care needed. In a true health emergency, seek immediate care in the nearest emergency facility. When your care is simply urgent, take stock of your choices. Consider calling your doctor first for help (even after hours and weekends). Or call the number on your member ID card for help finding an in-network urgent care center and other services.
Ask questions until you get the answers you need to handle your health concerns without mismanaging your pocketbook. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas offers a variety of patient education tools. You can:
That helps you skip higher costs at free-standing ER centers.
Originally published 12/7/2015; Revised 2020, 2022
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
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