HealthLeaders-InterStudy, the leading provider of managed care market intelligence, reports that the growing trend and accessibility of retail-based health clinics is emerging in communities across the country. Regardless of the stance health plans and physicians have taken on these clinics, busy consumers are responding favorably to the flexibility, low cost and convenience they offer.
"Some health plans have embraced the fast clinics, making them in-network providers, while others are more wary of the concept," states Jane DuBose, associate director of health plan analysis for HealthLeaders-InterStudy.
Several national insurers, including Aetna, CIGNA and UnitedHealthcare, have contracted with retail clinics and smaller regional plans are also jumping on board. According to the latest Washington, D.C. Market Overview report, UnitedHealthcare's contractual agreement with RediClinic includes nine new clinics which opened in the Richmond, Virginia area earlier this year. For some insurers, the clinics fit under insurers' broader strategy of cost transparency, choice and convenience, and insurers realize the popularity of these clinics with their members. In addition, health plans' biggest customers, employer groups, also like the retail-based clinics because employees seek care on less company time.
"Opponents believe these clinics disrupt patients' relationships to a primary care provider, and some health plans argue well-coordinated, cost- effective care through a provider who can monitor the whole picture of a patient's healthcare needs is a more efficient standard to follow," continues DuBose.
These clinics are staffed by nurse practitioners and only provide a limited number of non-emergency health services. By offering a narrow range of limited services, the wait is not long, the turnaround is quick. In addition, these clinics could be a viable way for the uninsured and underinsured to locate affordable services for non-emergent healthcare. CVS, the owner of MinuteClinic, has locations in 19 states, and Walgreens recently announced an agreement to purchase Take Care Health Systems with expectations to open 400 clinics in its stores by the end of 2008.
For additional insight into retail-based health clinics, visit www.healthleaders-interstudy.com to download an audio interview with Jane DuBose, associate director of health plan analysis for HealthLeaders- InterStudy.
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