The latest trend in medicine isn’t a new drug or procedure, it’s the freestanding emergency room. Two have been built in Wichita Falls within the past 4 months -- Select ER on Kemp and Neighbors ER at Kell East and McNeil.

So exactly what are they and how should you use them?

First and foremost, they should not be confused with ‘urgent care’ or walk-in style clinics.  These are truly emergency rooms, just like you’d find at United Regional or Kell West Hospital. According to a report from Fox 4 News, Texas state law requires these facilities to identify themselves as emergency rooms because that is exactly what they are for -- emergencies.

We’ve all used the walk-in urgent care clinics. Typically, if you have insurance -- and if you don’t the IRS will want to have a chat with you -- you pay a co-pay of $25 to $50 for urgent care services. Emergency room care, on the other hand, will cost you considerably more, usually over $100 as a co-pay.

Your total bill at an urgent care clinic, such as United Regional’s Barnett Road clinic, could cost you a few hundred bucks depending on what services you need. The emergency room bill will almost always be several thousands of dollars on top of that $100 + copay.

One last important thing to remember, generally speaking, Medicare does not recognize these freestanding ERs and will not reimburse them for ER services (unless it's a satellite of a hospital), which means you get stuck with the entire bill.

Here’s the report from Fox 4 News Dallas:

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