From the Witchita-based Flint Hills Center for Public Policy's recent study "Adding Health Care to Your Shopping List: The Emergence of In-Store Clinics":
Kansas is one of many states across the country considering ways to reform its health care system. With the number of uninsured a top concern, the debate centers on how to provide care for those who lack coverage. Too often, unfortunately, policymakers assume that government solutions are the only answers to reforms. Ignoring private sector opportunities to enhance access to health care is a mistake.
In-store health care clinics are popping up across the nation and offer a private sector solution to some of the growing concerns of policymakers.
Based on the study, I was able to put together the Top Ten reasons that private-sector retail clinics are a great alternative to government health care:
- These clinics offer basic acute care services, as well as preventative care options.
- They offer clear price transparency with posted lists of services and prices and often accept insurance.
- For the uninsured particularly, these clinics offer an alternative to emergency room visits or untreated symptoms.
- In-store health care clinics are conveniently located in pharmacies and stores making them particularly attractive for individuals who live in rural areas, areas with doctor shortages, or for virtually anyone with a busy schedule.
- The clinics are open extended hours into the evenings, weekends, and holidays making it easier for working families to get care.
- The clinics are often paired with pharmacies, which makes it convenient to get prescriptions filled in one stop.
- These private-sector clinics provide people seeking treatment an alternative to emergency rooms and government-run clinics.
- They empower people to take control of, and responsibility for, their own health needs.
- In-clinics offer an excellent opportunity for health care reform.
- Retail clinics now operate in a very competitive marketplace with many other retail health care clinics (e.g. Kroger (NYSE:KR), Walgreens (WAG), CVS (NYSE:CVS), Target (NYSE:TGT) and Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT)) and "competition breeds competence."
Hat Tip: NCPA
The Flint Hills Center must be happy about this story in yesterday's Witicha Eagle: Walgreens confirmed it will open three Take Care Health Clinics in Wichita by the end of July, with another two slated to open by the end of the year. The drugstore giant becomes the first national retailer to bring its in-store, walk-in clinics to the Wichita market, beating out other retailers such as Wal-Mart, Kroger and Target, which are launching similar clinics in other states.
Update (from an anonymous comment):
- Emergency Rooms can offer better, faster care of emergency cases when non-emergency cases are taken to a clinic at Wal-Mart or Walgreens.
- Many patients have conditions like diabetes or take medication like Warfarin that require frequent monitoring. Improved monitoring reduces the number of complications that can result in hospitalization.
- Full-time workers and small business owners will not have to choose between taking 2 hours off work and their responsibilities on the job.
- Early detection and improved health outcomes. Met a gentleman recently who had not been able to see to drive. He was diagnosed with advanced cataracts at Wal-Mart and referred to a surgeon. His words seem to sum it up: "I never thought I would have anything to thank Wallmart for."