Have you ever asked yourself how and why health care got so stupidly bureaucratized? Why shouldn’t you be able to walk into a clinic and get a physical just like you do a haircut. If prevention is so much cheaper than treatment, wouldn’t you want to front load resources into frequent doctor visits.
These days, when you go to a doctor’s office, you need to wait 40 minutes just to have them confirm your “insuranace” status. This is due to the absurd belief that insurance actually takes the place of actual “health care.”
With the proper changes in health expenditure taxation (full deductability, Health Savings Accounts, etc.) the market for better avenues to care will return. Who knows, we may even see the “house call” come back.
One of the most promising developments is the emergence of retail-based “convenient care” clinics that are providing consumers with easier access to high-quality, routine health care at affordable prices. There are about 400 such clinics today and could be several thousand more in the next few years, but their growth is being threatened by burdensome regulations in some states and opposition from some corners of organized medicine.
Convenient care clinics are small health-care facilities with new brand names like RediClinic, MinuteClinic, and Take Care Health Clinics. Most are located in high-traffic retail outlets with pharmacies, such as Wal-Mart, CVS and Walgreen stores. Regional health-care systems have also opened retail-based clinics in their service areas, either directly or in partnerships with independent operators. These clinics generally are staffed by certified nurse practitioners who diagnose, treat and prescribe medications for a limited set of common ailments, such as strep throat and ear infections. They also administer health screenings, medical tests, immunizations, basic physical exams and other preventive care.
Convenient care clinics have been embraced by consumers, who give them consistently high marks for patient satisfaction: 97% of the more than 4,000 RediClinic patients surveyed this year said they would recommend RediClinic to their relatives and friends. This is because the clinics are delivering something that is all too rare in our system — convenient and affordable health care.
Of course, no great idea could be left alone by the “evil scum of the earth.” These scum want to destroy these clinics.
Some physician organizations, however, including ones in Illinois and Massachusetts, are pushing for new regulations that would impede the growth of convenient care clinics through expensive permitting requirements (which physician practices do not have to face), further limitations on the number of nurse practitioners that an individual physician can supervise, and prohibitions against advertising that compares the fees of convenient care clinics with those of physicians. This is exactly the kind of price transparency our health-care system needs. In addition, the American Medical Association passed resolutions at its recent annual meeting that push for government intervention, legislation and other measures that could curtail the expansion of convenient care clinics.