Freestanding emergency departments, which provide emergency medical care but are physically separate from hospitals, charge many times more than other providers for the same care, according to a new analysis by UnitedHealth Group.

How it works: Freestanding ERs often don't provide treatment for common emergencies like trauma, strokes and heart attacks.

  • Standard disclaimers apply: Yes, the nation's biggest insurer has some skin in the game here on ER costs. But there's also plenty of other evidence that ER costs are indeed very high.

By the numbers:

  • Only 2.3% of visits to freestanding emergency departments are for actual emergency care.
  • The number of these facilities increased from 222 in 2008 to 566 in 2016.
  • In Texas, the average cost of treating common conditions at a freestanding emergency department is 22 times greater than treatment at a doctor's office, and 19 times more than at an urgent care center.
  • If the location of care was changed to one of these cheaper alternatives, it'd save more than $3,000 per visit.

The backdrop: Freestanding emergency departments are disproportionately located in affluent areas that have access to other providers, and in Texas, less than one in four receive ambulances.

The bottom line: It is much, much cheaper to go see your family doctor if you have a fever — the most common diagnosis at Texas freestanding emergency departments.

Go deeper: We all pay for surprise emergency room bills

Go deeper

Post-debate poll finds Biden strong on every major issue

Joe Biden speaks Friday about "The Biden Plan to Beat COVID-19," at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

This is one of the bigger signs of trouble for President Trump that we've seen in a poll: Of the final debate's seven topics, Joe Biden won or tied on all seven when viewers in a massive Axios-SurveyMonkey sample were asked who they trusted more to handle the issue.

Why it matters: In a time of unprecedented colliding crises for the nation, the polling considered Biden to be vastly more competent.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
4 hours ago - Science

The murder hornets are here

A braver man than me holds a speciment of the Asian giant hornet. Photo: Karen Ducey/Getty Images

Entomologists in Washington state on Thursday discovered the first Asian giant hornet nest in the U.S.

Why it matters: You may know this insect species by its nom de guerre: "the murder hornet." While the threat they pose to humans has been overstated, the invading hornets could decimate local honeybee populations if they establish themselves.