David Williams from Health Business Blog has a great post about doctors who want to outlaw drug store clinics by making a ban on the sale of tobacco products at facilities that also provide health care. Our health care system is in peril, people can’t afford care, 47 million people are uninsured… but there’s a big group of people in the health care industry with a very vested interest in keeping the status quo. Sad but true. Unfortunately, these in-store clinics don’t seem to be faring too well just yet. SmartCare just closed 15 clinics here in Colorado last month, for what appears to be financial reasons. The clinics were in Wal Mart stores, and were staffed by nurse practitioners who treated minor ailments for a flat $65 fee. They were great for people without health insurance, people who didn’t have time to wait for an opening at a doctor’s office, or those who needed an appointment outside of normal business hours. But it was too good to be true – the operating costs turned out to be higher than expected. Maybe they just needed better financial management, or maybe this just isn’t a feasible sort of program. We’ll have to wait and see if another agency chooses to set up shop in the Wal Mart stores that have been vacated by SmartCare. But if the clinics can operate successfully, provide a service to patients, keep costs reasonable, and take walk-in patients without health insurance, they could be a great addition to our health care system. I’m not impressed with traditional care providers who take aim at these clinics and try to find fancy legal ways to keep all of the business to themselves.
Thanks to Joe Paduda for publishing the Cavalcade Of Risk this week, where I found David’s article.