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Store Based Clinics offer Low Cost Healthcare Alternative

A new pair of shoes, a trip to the food court, and a treatment for a bladder infection – sound strange? Its not, and as more and more Americans struggle with healthcare costs more and more of them are turning to store based health clinics.

These In-Store health clinics are most often staffed by physician’s assistants or nurse practitioners and are very attractive to those without medical insurance, or with health insurance with a high deductible because of their low costs for routine treatments such as colds, flu, and minor injuries.

According to a study by the Convenient Care Association the recently formed trade association for the emerging mini-clinic industry, about 7% Americans report that they have gone to a mini-clinic at least one time. It is anticipated that number will increase many-fold as major retail pharmacy giants Wal-Mart and Target hook up with the two top mini-clinic providers MinuteClinic and RediClinic expanding their operations within their stores.

With the over 47 million Americans without access to affordable health insurance, and even those with health insurance coverage seeking low cost healthcare alternatives, these store-based clinics may be just what the doctor, or in this case nurse practitioner ordered.

On average a physical at the clinics cost about $60, a flu shot cost around $20, a culture for strep throat only about $15, all delivered within an average waiting time of around 15 minutes.

As the clinics grow so to do support by major health insurance providers. Currently about 50% of the mini-clinics accept health insurance from Aetna, United Healthcare and Humana. That number and the number of heath insurance companies are expected to grow.

Health clinics in stores are held to exacting standards just like doctor’s offices, said a spokesperson with the Convenient Care Association. The In-store Mini-Clinics are regulated by a state board of nursing, board of medicine, or both. In some states the nurse practitioner is permitted to treat on their own, in others their needs to be supervision by a physician.