Don't go to the emergency for a bee sting if it's not life threatening! Let us help.

Did you hear the one about the lady who received a $12,000 bill for one trip to the ER due to a bee sting? Unfortunately, it’s not a joke. A woman in Valrico, Florida decided to go to the emergency room after getting stung by a bee in her yard. In the past, she had experienced allergic reactions, but didn’t have an EpiPen on hand. She was seen by several doctors, who ordered thousands of dollars in blood tests and an EKG during her visit of less than two hours. In addition, her insurer wouldn’t cover the cost because the hospital was out of network, so she ended up having to pay the entire bill herself, which came in at a whopping $12,000. Ouch! Talk about getting stung.

Emergency room visit costs have continued to rise over the past three years mostly due to an increase in the prices charged by hospitals, even as ER usage remained much the same. The spending covers the hospitals’ charges for visiting the ER, known as a facility fee, as well as some tests and services. It doesn’t include ER evaluations by doctors, who usually send patients an entirely separate bill.

Knowing which care option is best for your situation will help you get the right treatment for your needs and save you time and money. Emergency rooms are ideal for handling emergencies, but come with long wait times and expensive bills for less severe cases that could be handled elsewhere. Urgent care clinics are best for non-emergency care, cost significantly less and have reduced wait times. In fact, research shows that 92% of urgent care visits take 30 minutes or less to see a provider. The average wait time for an emergency room visit is four hours. Plus, the average cost of an urgent care visit is $168 versus the average cost of an emergency room visit at $2,259.

Here in Texas, the public needs to be aware of free-standing emergency rooms (FSED), which are not attached to hospitals and may look similar to urgent care centers, but have the same high costs and long wait times as standard ERs. However, there are three easy signs that help you tell the difference between an FSED and an urgent care facility. First, look for the word “emergency,” which will be in the name or sign of the facility. Second, when asked, the staff will call the facility an “emergency room.” Finally, the facility will not be found on the website.

An alternative to both emergency rooms and free-standing emergency rooms is Freedom Urgent Care. We are an Urgent Care and Occupational Medicine facility, established in Harker Heights, founded in 2010. We are locally owned and operated, with two convenient walk-in clinics to treat you and your family’s non-emergency symptoms such as: ear and eye infections, fever, minor cuts that may need stitches, possible broken bones and simple fractures, minor skin infections, severe sore throat, allergies, sprains and strains, and vomiting and diarrhea. With our robust Occupational Medicine Services, we are able to provide multiple service lines such as DOT and Pre-Deployment physicals, Worker’s Compensation Services, Drug Screens, Breath Alcohol testing, Immunizations, and a variety of other services to keep our local, and regional employers, in compliance and their employees healthy. Our locations in Harker Heights (300 W Central Texas Expy #115) and Killeen (3202 S. WS Young, Suite 106) are open 7 days a week and no appointment is necessary.  Clinic hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Both Freedom Urgent Care locations offer modern, state-of-the-art facilities with the latest technology including digital X-ray and electronic medical records. For more information, visit Get answers at any Freedom Urgent Care location. Also, be sure to “Like” and “Follow” Freedom Urgent Care on Facebook and Instagram.