How Quick Care Clinics Can Help You
Calling 911 or heading to the nearest ER are your first options when you need medical care fast. Nowadays, depending on your medical circumstances, there are other options apart from the emergency room. When you require urgent care, you can turn to retail clinics.
Convenience and Accessibility
Retail clinics, or “minute clinics,” are healthcare facilities in a retail location. These care sites can provide primary care and can order necessary medications. Another benefit of these facilities is their convenience and accessibility. CVS, for instance, has over 1,100 minute clinics; More than 140 Walmart’s have retail clinics in-house that are operating through partnerships with the local hospital and medical systems.
While retail clinics are not an alternative for other necessities of medical care, they have paved the and created a niche for offering medical services at an affordable cost. Patients with time-dependent medical concerns mean a visit to an urgent care facility. However, these patients have to wait days or weeks to check in with their personal doctors; or wait a month or two for a new patient appointment. Thus, when a medical issue is not severe or grave enough to warrant an emergency visit, urgent care is where patients should go.
However, urgent care centers often come with a heftier cost. On the other hand, retail clinics are a more low-cost option. They have licensed health practitioners on staff that can provide the same level of medical care you can find at a full-fledged clinic.
On the Rise
Retail clinics are not available everywhere across the country yet. However, Forbes reported that there had been tremendous growth and they are on the rise. From 200 retail clinics in 2006 to about 1,800 in 2014, which is a 900% increase in just eight years. It may seem somewhat strange to bring your health and medical concerns to Target or Walmart, but for small or minor issues, retail clinics can provide quality urgent care at economical prices, both for uninsured or insured patients.
Let’s take a closer look at this growing healthcare delivery model.
Many health insurance plans are accepted at retail clinics. Additionally, uninsured patients can avail the economical prices that health clinics at retail settings offer. Retail clinics’ rates can range between $45 and $75. Walmart’s Care Clinics have a base rate of $40 per visit. Lab work, testing, and vaccines come with additional pricing available on their website. In comparison, at depending on your medical episode, expect to pay at least $110 at doctors’ offices, $165 at urgent care centers, and $570 at emergency rooms.
Reason to Go
Retail clinics usually have a set of services they offer that you can refer to before you visit them. Such conditions include minor, easily treatable medical concerns such as cold and flu, strep throat, ear infections, rashes, small cuts, pink eye, bronchitis, bladder infections, and even routine preventive services including physical check-ups and vaccination. If it turns out your health concern needs to be evaluated by a doctor, the clinic can and will refer you.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued an advisory to parents to avoid retail clinics as they don’t have the complete medical records on young patients. The AAP also added that the there is a likelihood that retail clinic practitioners may over-prescribe medications. Many health research groups have conducted investigations on these claims and found no evidence. Indeed, it’s recommended to see a regular pediatrician for your children when you can. However, if it’s after-hours or you or your family doctor is out of town, retail clinics are a reasonable alternative.
As the name suggests, CVS’ “minute clinics” tend to offer quick medical services. Short wait times are not guaranteed, mainly depending on your specific health care situation. However, you can call and check on estimated wait times. As opposed to regular physician offices, retail clinics are available in the evenings and on weekends, making them convenient for individuals with limited time and busy schedules. Next time you are picking up your groceries or getting something from the drugstore, you can also do a healthcare visit.
We already know that the growth of retail clinics is in progress. However, there are still parts of the country where getting urgent care at retail clinics are not an option. If you have that option, going to them will encourage more growth; thus, fueling the clinics for expansion. A lot of low-cost clinic advocates support retail clinics.