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Walk-in Clinic FAQs

  • What is a walk-in clinic?

    Walk-in clinics describe an increasingly broad segment of medical clinics around the world, loosely characterized as facilities that accept patients with no appointments, or as “walk-ins.” Many walk-in clinics fall into sub-categories including urgent care, retail clinics, occupational medicine clinics, among others, including primary care and pediatrician offices that offer walk-in hours. In total, Solv estimates there are nearly 15,000 walk-in clinics in the United States, although it is impossible to calculate an exact number given the variable and ill-defined nature of the category. While some walk-in clinics are government, foundation or charity support providing a free community service, the majority of these operations are fee for service, yet generally both accessible and often inexpensive.

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  • What’s the difference between an urgent care and walk-in clinic?

    Urgent care center, walk-in clinic, immediate care clinic, retail clinic, convenient care clinic; the terms are used often interchangeably these days. Essentially, any clinic that allows patients to walk-in with no advance appointment is a walk-in clinic. So you can consider “walk-in clinic” an overarching category. An urgent care center represents a subset of the walk-in clinic model that generally offers extended hours, expanded services and capabilities and on-site x-rays and lab tests. Retail clinics, another type of walk-in clinic, offers a smaller service menu, is located inside of a pharmacy or retail outlet, is usually staffed by a nurse practitioner (NP) and generally has a lower price point.

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  • Is a walk-in clinic a substitute for a primary care physician?

    Though walk-in clinics, particularly urgent care centers, treat most conditions, including preventative care, immunizations and diagnostics, it is generally not a good idea to substitute them for a primary care doctor. These centers have been created for supplemental, after-hours care and cases where your primary care office is not available. Utilizing a walk-in clinic as your primary care provider may limit your continuity of care and limit the referral network your provider has direct access to should you need a specialist.

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  • How much does a walk-in clinic cost?

    While it varies by location - and there are no real industry standards - a visit to a walk-in clinic will generally have a base price of $75-125 for cash paying customers. That said, one clinic might charge you $50 while another one a mile away could charge $150. Of course, this is generally the base price of a visit before additional services. If you require any medication or injections (including immunizations), tests, labs and x-rays, casting, stitches, etc. there will be additional costs that you should discuss with the clinic. If you are walking in with insurance, typical co-pays wil range from $20-50 depending on your plan and whether you are in network with the provider.

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  • Is insurance accepted at urgent care centers?

    Each insurance provider determines if their plans cover walk-in clinics or not. And individual clinics and providers may or may not have a relationship with a specific carrier (or plan). This makes it complicated, but in only rare cases will an insurance not cover your walk-in clinic visit. Most often they are just treated like a specialist with the same copay, usually between $30-50. Some services, such as annual well visits and routine physicals are many times covered with no out of pocket expense, perhaps beyond the copay for the appointment. While you could assume that a clinic will take your insurance, it is always best to call ahead and be certain.

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