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No Health Insurance? Save Money On Doctor Visits Using These New Health Clinics

As many of my long-time readers may remember, I no longer have health insurance. Since my divorce was finalized back in November, I have been unable to get private health insurance due to dealing with cancer back in 2008. Not a single insurance company will take me on as a customer, even though I am seemingly healthy today.

Starting in August I will hopefully have access to a new “pre-existing condition” insurance plan that will be provided either by an overall plan through the government or companies in individual states (here in CO it is by the state/private company). Since November I have been doing my best to keep my costs down while still being able to see a doctor when I needed to – and I needed to a few weeks ago. After traveling to Massachusetts for a wedding, I started feeling severe headaches on one side of my head, accompanied by a loss of hearing in my left ear. Sounds serious, right? I thought so too! But without insurance, I couldn’t just walk into any doctor’s office or hospital without leaving with an overwhelming bill to pay. So I did what I did when I had the flu a few months ago – I walked into a health clinic in CVS called Minute Clinic. A $69 medical bill later, an issue in my inner ear was taken care of and I was back to normal.

These small health clinics are popping up all over the place – CVS, Walgreens, Target, Walmart, etc. and for good reason. More and more people are without health insurance (either because they cannot afford it or they cannot get it), and these clinics offer a lot of different services for a relatively small amount money. While they do take insurance as well, they are really great for those of us who are without insurance, enabling us to still get healthcare at reasonable rates when we need it. In fact, I had a doctor in California that didn’t take anyone without insurance, so these clinics should be able to find plenty of customers if that trend continues. The clinics see people for things like vaccinations, minor injury exams, allergies, earaches, flu-like symptoms, pink eye, physicals, lacerations, sprains, suture removal, acne, sunburn, rashes, etc. – ranging in price from $19 – $102. They are open 7 days a week and I never waited more than 10 minutes to see the practitioner at the one I went to at CVS.

OK, so when I had two small surgeries on my back last month, I went to a local doctor since the clinics don’t do surgery. But without insurance, I was required to give them a 50% downpayment before the doctor would even start cutting. I felt like a deadbeat! They are so used to getting paid by insurance companies that they are wary of those of us without insurance. That’s why these clinics are so useful for smaller medical issues – they are affordable, take people without health insurance, and can usually see you in just a few minutes. Just don’t go in looking for cheaper surgery at your local CVS!

Here are the websites of the Top 4 most common health clinics in business right now that can be found in most towns or at least nearby to your town:

The issue I was having back east took THREE visits to the clinic to clear up – but they only charged me the $69 fee once. If I had gone to a doctor 3 times, without insurance, it would have cost me a fortune! I am very glad that these clinics are showing up in communities around the country, and I highly recommend you check one out if you either don’t have insurance or have an urgent issue your doctor can’t see you right away for. Even when (if) I am finally able to get health insurance again, I will still use these clinics for less urgent medical issues.

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Comments (14)

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  1. Melissa says:

    My local “quick clinic” is located in my grocery store. If there’s a wait, you simply take a buzzer and can do your shopping while in line.

    My favorite part about these clinics, however, is that they post their prices. I wish my regular doctor or the ER would post their prices. Then I would have known that a warm blanket equates to a $50 charge on the final bill.

  2. Man,

    I’d love to give those clinics a try–its just that the quality of the care there makes me a little leery

    But for the less urgent stuff, I don’t see why not

  3. David says:

    David – Well, since I don’t have an option, I will take their quality of care. :) They are all nurse practioners, just like in a “real” Doctor’s office.

  4. Tyler says:

    David,

    If you have insurance and choose to go to these “less-urgent” locations, will you then pay out of pocket or use insurance?

  5. David says:

    Depends on which one costs less for me, really. I would imagine insurance would cost less in a co-pay than you pay if you are uninsured.

  6. Sara says:

    Thanks for the extra information about these clinics. I didn’t realize how many places had them now. Another place to check for folks who don’t have access to these stores (or their area stores do not have clinics) is ShopKo.com. Also, the link you provided don’t work for me – looks like your url is included in them? I worked around it though. ;)

  7. Pat says:

    Like you, I have trouble getting insurance. i was diagnosed with kidney disease some 14 years ago, and while I’m still healthy and active, insurance companies don’t like me. I’ve been able to pay my way for the most part, since doctor’s office visits don’t cost that much here, but I will now look into these clinics. I’d heard of them before, but just never gave them serious thought. Thanks!

  8. Felisha says:

    Can anyone tell me if these places work with you on a payment plan?

  9. Xel says:

    Thanks for the info, I am not on insurance because I’m trying to cut costs but I have a bad earache/ear infection and need some relief. Had no idea these existed. It’s nice to have another option.

  10. Tanamary says:

    I’d be careful at these clinics if you ever do manage to get insurance. My 28 year old daughter was using these clinics for some time paying between $30 and $50 a visit. She FINALLY got insurance, but it has a high deductible ($3000 a year). She went to the same clinic she always used and presented her insurance card. Three weeks later she got the insurance EOB. The clinic charged her $200!!!! And because her deductible was not met, she has to pay the whole $200. She’d have been better off NOT having insurance.

  11. Arie says:

    I would say that Tanamary’s comment above is “User error.” You should know what your plan covers before seeking services. That’s what you get when you choose a high deductible plan.

    I LOVE these urgent care clinics. I’ve been to several in several states and have usually gotten quick, competent care. In fact, my experiences have been so great that I now view them as my “primary care” providers. I wish all doctor’s offices could have low waiting times. At the urgent care centers, the doctors and nurses actually can take the time to LISTEN to you and thus ensure a more accurate diagnosis than being rushed in and out. The co-pay has been the same as seeing a traditional private doctor so why would anyone put up with those long waiting times? I also love that they usually have weekend and late hours. Amen to that!

  12. Buzz says:

    Thanks for this insight. I’m uninsured and have a killer earache. I think you will have saved me hundreds of dollars I don’t have to spare. I’ll be checking out Walgreen’s clinic tomorrow.

  13. Adam says:

    I just want to let everyone know that Doc4Uninsured.org has a listing of 10,000 free/low-cost clinics coast-to-coast where you can search by location, zip code and keywords. Depending on location, the website has private doctors who accept self-pay patients at a discount.

  14. It’s good to hear that there are health clinics that entertain and take care for those individuals that do not have insurance. And they are affordable too! Hope that there will be more health clinics like this around the world!

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