Angie's LIST Guide to
Retail Health Clinics

Retail health clinics provide a convenient health and wellness alternative for many consumers who need less urgent and non-emergency health services and products with convenient locations and hours.
 

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Those needing medical attention for minor illnesses can turn to the convenience of local minute clinics.(Photo by Geraldine Pritchard)
Those needing medical attention for minor illnesses can turn to the convenience of local minute clinics.(Photo by Geraldine Pritchard)
 
 

Retail health clinic services

When you go shopping at your local chain pharmacy or big box store, you're more likely to encounter a clinic right there in the store.

The staffs of these clinics typically consist of physician's assistants and nurse practitioners. Though not full-fledged doctors, these staff members possess the necessary education and training to provide treatment and health services for minor ailments and conditions.

The service level of these health centers is not geared toward treating life-threatening medical conditions. Instead, they focus on more general health and wellness services that include lab tests and physicals, high blood pressure monitoring and treatments for sprains and minor ailments, such as viral infections and strep throat.

You can prepare for the winter flu season by getting your vaccination shots as a preventative measure against not only the flu but also pneumonia and other illnesses. You can get your cholesterol levels checked and become more informed about diabetes. These small health centers treat small wounds and poison ivy and help you stop smoking. Examples of lab testing may include checking blood-sugar levels and urinary-tract infections, in addition to pregnancy tests. Some states may have age restrictions on who can receive services.

Visiting a retail health clinic

Guidelines may vary depending on the health clinic you visit, so check out the available options for treatment before your visit.

Typical services provided include examinations, removal of sutures and splinters and diagnosis and treatment for influenza, respiratory infections, ear infections, bee stings, small cuts and abrasions. Fees for services provided will vary depending on the condition and treatment but are generally reasonable and affordable.

Some clinics may offer wellness screenings, which can include physical exams for high school and college students and summer camp physicals for younger children. For those looking to start a fitness program or in need of pointers on weight loss, some clinics may provide guidance to get you started in the right direction. Not all services are available in all states, so make sure you check before you make a trip to the nearest clinic.

Finding a retail health clinic

Do your research ahead of time so you know what to expect. Bring a handy checklist with you and contact the clinic before your visit to ask about payment options. Ask the staff whether the clinic accepts your health insurance. You may need prior authorization before you receive treatment, so contact your health insurance provider for specific details. Consumers without insurance should explore available options ahead of time.

Contact the clinic before your trip to ask about any age restrictions and health services available. Remember that some locations may offer different services, and each clinic may be unique in its offerings. If you are seeking wellness services, talk to staff members beforehand to find out what programs they have. Check with Angie's List for member reviews and recommendations when selecting a clinic. Overall, you'll appreciate the convenience and prompt service found at minute clinics as a step toward better health and wellness.

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