Freestanding ERs

Protecting Consumers from Exorbitant Medical Bills at Freestanding ERs

Freestanding ERs are rapidly popping up in residential areas throughout Texas. Though freestanding ERs tend to have the same look and feel of urgent care centers, many consumers are unaware that, unlike urgent care centers, these facilities are often out of network and can charge patients up to 10 times more for the same services. Many consumers are confused about the network status of freestanding ERs, which use intentionally misleading language, and are left reeling from exorbitant and surprise medical bills.

TAHP supports enhanced protections for consumers by increasing transparency in advertising, pricing and network status at freestanding ERs. Those engaged in price-gouging or deceptive advertising must be held accountable. In addition, the mediation process should be expanded to include all non-network freestanding ER facilities and provider services. Finally, costly government mandates that are contributing to the growing trend of out-of-network emergency care and surprise billing should be repealed.

Freestanding ERs Resources:

TAHP Supports Pro-Consumer HB 3276 to Require Greater Transparency from Independent Freestanding ERs

A guide to TAHP legislative priorities in the 85th Texas Legislature.

March 2017

Texans are being misled by a relatively new business model that has popped up at record speed across the state: freestanding ERs. Freestanding ERs can charge up to 10 times more than urgent care centers for the same services, because they are almost always out of network. Consumer confusion is leading to increasing consumer frustration. TAHP supports HB 3276 by Rep. Tom Oliverson, which would help alleviate this by taking important steps to require greater transparency at freestanding ERs and ensure they are being upfront with consumers about their network status.


Legislative Solutions to Protect Texans in Emergency Situations

A guide to proposed legislative solutions to better protect Texans seeking emergency care.

March 2017

In the 85th Texas Legislature, legislators have introduced 9 individual bills to address concerns about the rising costs associated with emergency medical care in Texas. This resource guide provides an overview of those proposals and background information on the emergency care cost crisis in Texas.


Emergency Care Cost Crisis in Texas

Infographics and resource guide on hidden, expensive costs in Texas emergency care.

March 2017

Across the nation states are experiencing a serious market failure in emergency care and perhaps nowhere greater is that crisis than in Texas. Texas has some of the highest rates of surprise medical billing and out-of-network emergency doctors, and some of the highest costs for emergency care in the country.


Reining in Freestanding ERs

Background on freestanding ERs and solutions to better inform and protect Texas consumers.

January 2017

Though freestanding emergency rooms (ERs) may look like urgent care centers, many consumers are unaware that freestanding ERs are often out of network and can charge up to 10 times what urgent care centers charge for the same services. Many consumers are confused about the network status of freestanding ERs and left reeling from exorbitant and surprise medical bills following their visits. TAHP advocates for greater protections and transparency for consumers so they can make informed decisions about where to seek medical care and have options to challenge surprise medical bills when they arise.


Freestanding ERs and the Need for Greater Transparency, More Consumer Protections

A resource guide on freestanding ERs.

May 2016

A new type of provider and facility has arrived in Texas and across the country, and its prevalence is growing at record speed: the freestanding emergency room. The freestanding ER looks and feels much like the traditional urgent care facility, is structurally separate and distinct from a hospital, and is often found in commercial shopping centers, close to neighborhoods and residential areas. Many consumers are unaware that freestanding ERs are permitted to charge a facility fee, just like a traditional hospital ER. They are also unaware that most freestanding ERs are out of network. These factors that mean most often, consumers will be left reeling from higher medical bills than expected-sometimes up to 10 times more than an urgent care center would charge for the same services.