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One Woman's Guide to Cheap S.F. Health Clinics 

Wednesday, Jun 1 2011

The Obama administration's Affordable Care Act covers young Americans up to age 26 on their parents' health insurance plans. Lucky kids. For anyone who will never see 26 again, and the 60,000 San Franciscans without health insurance, here's a clip-and-save guide to dirt-cheap public healthcare options. All these clinics offer Pap smears and STD and HIV testing, but where's the best place for grownups to go (in this economy!) on the morning after?

San Francisco City Clinic
What: Nondescript South of Market mainstay that's all about sexual health and keeping it discreet
Where: 357 Seventh St. (at Harrison)
Perfect for: Those times when weird stuff is going on with your nether regions and you need a clinic, stat!
Services: Annual exams, and counseling for anyone over the age of 12. Rad.
How to get served: Walk in early — like, 7:40 a.m.
Waiting room wait: One to two hours — but in front of a flatscreen TV.
Perks: Condom racks and a lube and morning-after pill grab-bag buffet.
Helpfulness of staff: A+
How much: $10 optional donation.

Glide Health Services
What: Scruffy church in the Tenderloin's dodgy parts, primarily serving homeless people. (But you can go, too.)
Where: 300 Ellis (at Taylor)
Perfect for: Thorough attention from a nurse practitioner who is experienced in treating way worse ailments than yours.
Services: Physicals, immunizations, substance-abuse counseling, and even psychiatric, chiropractic, and acupuncture treatments.
How to get served: Walk in early. Prove on some forms that you're poor and uninsured. Then wait. Glide operates like an emergency room, so if you walk in for your physical at the same time someone else is having a seizure, the seizure gets priority.
Appointment wait time: Three weeks.
Waiting room wait: About 20 minutes, unless there are the aforementioned emer-gency cases.
Perks: Dirt cheap, and one of the only "medical homes" under Healthy San Francisco, the city's low-cost healthcare provider, that offers St. Francis Memorial Hospital as a referral option.
Helpfulness of staff: B- in person. D for phone misinformation about how to get served.
Downside: Ellis and Taylor can be a real bummer.
How much: Depends on income, but no one is turned away for lack of funds.

Women's Community Clinic
What: Posh haven for women and transpeople, smack in the center of Fillmore boutiques.
Where: 1833 Fillmore (at Bush)
Services: Physicals, annual exams, emergency contraception, menopausal care, colposcopies
How to get served: Live nearby. Have no insurance, have crappy insurance, or prefer to shield your business from someone sharing your insurance policy. Then make an appointment.
Appointment wait time: Four to six weeks.
Helpfulness of staff: A+
Waiting room wait: One to two hours in chillaxed coziness.
Perks: Ladycentric and transcentric health clinic staffed by ladies. Nuff said.
How much: Free! Really!

Chinatown Public Health Center
What: Hospital-looking place geared toward Asian-language speakers but serving North Beach and Chinatown residents of all ethnicities.
Where: 1490 Mason (at Broadway)
How to get served: First, enroll with Healthy SF and pick Chinatown Public Health Center as your medical home. To do that, call its Eligibility Enrollment Unit in Potrero Hill and make an appointment; prove to a woman in a white lab coat that you earn less than $52K a year, live here, and are uninsured; and voilà! You have health coverage. Now if a Muni bus sideswipes you off your bike and causes life-threatening injuries, you won't get stuck with the $1,600 ambulance bill.
Services: Primary care, urgent care, prenatal care, ear care, physicals.
Helpfulness of staff: B- because of language barriers.
Appointment wait time: Four to six weeks.
Waiting room wait: One hour.
Perks: Affordable. Healthcare.

About The Author

Titania Kumeh


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