Americans are embracing walk-in clinics in a big way.  Ever wondered why? For cash-strapped travelers and students, and anyone looking for affordable treatment options for minor health issues, these appointment-free, easy-to-find clinics make the ideal care option. No wonder, such clinics have mushroomed across the country’s popular tourist destinations and university cites. Consider Florida for example, a destination that posted record tourism growth over the past few years. It seems that walk-in clinics are popping up everywhere throughout the Sun Shine State – in South Tampa, Miami, Orlando, Naples and more. You can find them tucked in the pharmacies, big retail stores, and even in the supermarkets. There are now more than 1,500 walk-in clinics in 38 states, and it’s rare to hear complaints from the people who’ve availed their services. It’s particularly popular among the baby boomer generation – a whopping 38 percent said they would opt for a walk-in.

Are Walk-In Clinics the Most Cost-Effective Care Option?

One of the reasons that more and more Americans are opting for walk-in clinics is that they offer convenient service at an affordable price.  Compared to $120 for a primary-care appointment and $122 for a check-up at an urgent-care facility, a visit to a walk-in will cost you not more than $75 on an average. And that is without insurance. Many insurance companies have waived copays for clinic visits, making them more cost-effective than traditional doctors. Many insurance companies offer full reimbursement of retail clinic visit. In these cases, the visits are free. Clinics all over the US generally accept plans from the large insurers like Aetna or Cigna. Regional plans, however, do not enjoy such universal acceptability. Coverage may vary according to your plan, but not according to the types of the clinic, which may range from a chain drugstore or a private shop.

Walk-In Clinics

Even if you visit a clinic that is not included in your plan’s network, you can avail all the services the clinic has to offer. However, you may expect to receive a surprise bill later, since out-of-network visits are generally more expensive. So check whether it is included in your plan’s network or not, before dropping in a clinic.

Who Can Opt for It?

If you are generally in good health, but seek relief from flu-induced discomforts, headache or sprains or need a few stitches, you can visit any of these clinics that offer quality care without keeping you on a long wait. These facilities are ideal for someone who has no insurance or is under-insured. Because of its low costs, walk-in clinics are ideal for travelers. Typically located at the city’s strategic points, such as the back corner of a pharmacy or inside a grocery store, these clinics are quite easy for the tourists to find.

Services on Offer

In addition to offering care for minor health issues such as strep throat and urinary tract infections, these clinics also perform basic lab tests and provide common vaccines for protection against flu and hepatitis. They are equipped to handle plenty of other issues such as ear infections, routine allergies, minor insect bites, athlete’s foot, sprains and more.

Before you visit a clinic, take a look at its staff-list. Whether you are a local resident or a tourist, never skip this crucial step, as a wrong choice of care option may complicate your condition. For example, walk-in clinics in a popular tourist destination like South Tampa are likely to have many trained professionals. Yes, walk-in clinics do help you save a lot of money, but never prioritize saving money over your health. Be sure to head to emergency room for anything serious.