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.