What Are the Different Types of Walk-in Clinics?
What Are My Options for Walk-in Medical Care?
Even if you’re lucky enough to have an established primary care physician (PCP), you’re likely to need access to walk-in medical care at some point. Patients scheduling primary care appointments must wait an average of 24 days, and a staggering 32 days for new patients without an established PCP. If you’re sick, injured, or need something like a quick physical exam or prescription refill, then you’ll want to visit a walk-in clinic.
The term “walk-in clinic” is very broad, and clinics falling under this umbrella may differ widely. However, they all share one important feature in common: You can walk in and receive medical care promptly without an appointment.
Most walk-in clinics also share a second feature in common: You can receive care without insurance by paying in cash, often at a discounted rate.
What Types of Clinics Accept Walk-ins and How Are They Different?
The three most common types of walk-in medical clinics are, alternatively: urgent care facilities, retail clinics, and community health centers.
Urgent care facilities are generally the most comprehensive in their menu of services, but these services may be more expensive than at primary care and retail clinics. Typical office visit prices range from $100 — $200.
Retail clinics — like mini-urgent cares inside of drug stores — are generally somewhat cheaper but also narrower in scope and possibly lower in trustworthiness than urgent cares. Typical office visit prices range from $50 — $150.
Community health centers (CHCs) vary widely and may offer steeply discounted or free medical services based on income; if you cannot prove financial need, then you may or may not be able to take advantage of the lower prices at CHCs. Office visits may cost as little as $50 or less.
There are also some clinics that do accept walk-ins but don’t fit neatly into any of the above categories, and may offer any combination of primary and urgent care services. People sometimes use the terms “urgent care” and “walk-in clinic” interchangeably. This is not always correct, although urgent care facilities are by far the most common type of walk-in clinic.
Where Can I Find and Compare Walk-in Clinics?
We hope we’ve dispelled some of the ambiguity surrounding “walk-in clinics.”
Different medical situations call for different approaches. If you think you need primary care, we recommend finding a primary care physician and establishing a trusted relationship, then getting any referrals you may need for further care. If you need urgent care now, or you simply want to get a head start in case something happens in the future, then you can’t go wrong using Sami-Aid’s Price Search Tool. It allows you to compare pricing and quality at urgent care, walk-in, and primary care facilities near you. We created it to help you find the care you need at a quality and price you are comfortable with.
Visualization of Sami-Aid’s Price Search Tool.
Affordable Alternatives to Walk-in Clinics
If you just need to be seen for a minor medical issue as soon as possible, you may be able to utilize telemedicine instead in the short term. SAMI-Aid's telemedicine doctors can see you virtually within about an hour or less, for only $59.99 per appointment. They treat colds, flus, UTIs in females, and many other common ailments. Register for a SAMI-Aid account and try telemedicine today.
Jonathan Potthast25 Apr 2019
Nice article! Thanks for the tips.