Before heading to the doctor, make sure you know the type of clinic you need. Health clinics differ from a FQHC, or federally qualified health center. Clinics are commonly small public or privately held health facilities that are often located in a rural area. They mainly focus on community outpatient care. Payment provisions are frequently different for clinics, making some of them more costly than a regular doctor’s visit. Health clinics are popular due to their range of outpatient services and their easily accessible rural locations. There are several different types of health care clinics that may benefit you depending on your needs.
If you’re in need of free or low cost health care, a free clinic may be the option for you. According to the National Association of Free Clinics, free clinics are volunteer-based and provide medical, dental and other health services to the public. They are tax-exempt organizations that offer services regardless of payment. Most free clinics offer acute, primary and chronic care, but do not offer services for developing conditions. Selected clinics also offer dental care. On-site pharmacies are accessible at some.
General Outpatient Clinic
An outpatient health clinic is a general practice facility run by specialists focused in several different areas of practice. These are generally found in communities and cater to those located in the rural area. Outpatient health clinics specialize in general diagnosis and treatment. Primary, acute and ongoing care is typically offered. Payment options for general outpatient clinics are different at each facility, but most take larger health insurance plans. (See Reference 3)
Convenient Care Clinic
Convenient care clinics, or retail based clinics, are often located in pharmacies, supermarkets and other merchandising outlets. They are frequently staffed with nurse practitioners that offer a narrow range of treatments. Common colds and infections are generally treated at convenient care clinics. Some also provide preventative care, vaccinations and physical exams. Convenient care clinics tend to cost less than a doctor’s office, an emergency room or a general outpatient clinic. There are approximately 1,200 convenient care clinics operating in 32 states across the nation, according to the Convenient Care Association.
If you’re looking for a specific type of treatment, visit a specialist clinic. Specialist clinics focus on a main part of the body and are more beneficial for specific care than a general outpatient clinic. Some specialist clinics focus on fertility and genitourinary medicine. They deal both in diagnosis and treatment. Payment options differ according to each individual clinic, but most take larger insurance plans.