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How to Save 25% or More on Medical Visits

‘Tis the season for sniffles and sore throats and, while we already know we can count on our local pharmacy for flu shots or cold medicine, we may not realize that drug stores and big box retailers are increasingly offering affordable walk-in medical services, as well. In fact, due to the growing demand of newly insured patients under the recent health care reform, the number of in-store health centers in the U.S. is expected to double to more than 2,800 in the next three years, according to a new report by the consulting firm Accenture.

“Advance degreed” nurses or nurse practitioners who can treat ailments ranging from sinus infections to earaches to fractures and lacerations typically staff in-store clinics at retailers including Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS. Many also offer preventative care, such as physicals and cholesterol screenings. You can even get basic dermatological care at some locations. No appointments are necessary.

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These clinics can save you hundreds on your medical bills. Walk-in services typically run $25 to $100, about 25% less than similar treatment in a doctor’s office. At Walmart, for example, its in-store clinics offer a “Get well. Stay well.” visit that costs, on average, $65 or less. At Target’s in-store pharmacy, you can receive treatment for minor illnesses, such as mono and laryngitis, for $75. Visits last, on average, 15 minutes.

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Store clinics can also reduce dependence on emergency rooms for non-critical care. A recent study estimates retail medical clinics and urgent care units could safely handle 17% of ER visits, saving consumers a whopping $4.4 billion a year.

How do you take advantage of retail clinic savings? Connect with me on Twitter @Farnoosh and use the hashtag #finfit.