Background: Retail clinics are clinics within a retail store that provide simple acute and preventive care services for a fixed price without an appointment.
Objective: To describe characteristics of retail clinics, including their location, scope of practice, prices, acceptance of insurance, and ownership, and to estimate the proportion of the U.S. population that lives within a short driving distance of such a clinic.
Design: Cross-sectional descriptive study.
Setting: United States.
Participants: All 982 retail clinics operating as of August 2008.
Measurements: Population living within a 5- and 10-minute driving distance of a retail clinic.
Results: In August 2008, 42 operators ran 982 clinics in 33 states; 88.4% were located in urban areas. Nearly half (44%) of all clinics were located in 5 states (Florida, California, Texas, Minnesota, and Illinois). All offered sore throat treatment (average price, $78) and more than 95% offered treatment of skin conditions, immunizations, pregnancy testing, and lipid or diabetes screening. Almost all (97%) accepted private insurance and Medicare fee-for-service (93%). Among 42 clinic operators, 25 are existing health care companies that operate 11% of the clinics, and 3 are for-profit retail chains that operate 73% of the clinics. An estimated 10.6% of the total U.S. and 13.4% of the urban U.S. population lives within a 5-minute driving distance of a retail clinic, whereas 28.7% (total) and 35.8% (urban) live within a 10-minute driving distance.
Limitation: Our inventory of clinics stopped in August 2008 and estimates of proximity are based on 2000 census data.
Conclusion: Retail clinics are positioned to provide immunizations and care for simple acute conditions for a substantial segment of the urban U.S. population.
Primary funding source: California Healthcare Foundation.