How Regulation Makes Health Care Cost More

This is from a Health Affairs study of nurse practitioner-run retail clinics in 27 states:

Compared to settings such as physician offices, urgent care clinics, and emergency departments with a per episode average cost of $704, retail clinics had a cost of $543 with no NP independence; $484 when NPs can practice independently; and $509 per episode when NPs can both practice and prescribe independently.

The authors estimate an added potential savings of $810 million nationwide in 2014 if all states allowed NPs to practice independently. They refer to predictions of 5,000 retail clinics being in operation by 2015 and recommend that scope-of-practice laws permit NPs to operate to the fullest extent of their abilities to improve care and decrease costs.

Comments (4)

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  1. JFA says:

    I think deregulation in this direction is a good idea, but $810 million is approximately 0% of what is spent on health care in the US.

  2. Devon Herrick says:

    When MinuteClinic tried to set up in Boston, they were initially blocked because a “clinic” was supposed to have all manner of features that could not be included in a small footprint, retail clinic. Part of the Health Department’s objection was that it really didn’t want non-traditional clinics because they didn’t fit neatly with the concept of a medical home. Luckily, time has proven the value of these facilities.

  3. Jimbino says:

    I’d like to see a case where Regulation made something cost less!

    Of course, Regulation could make something like perinatal care appear to cost less, but only by transfering costs from the breeders to the childfree.

    You can pay a fortune and get regulated prescription drugs in the USSA. Or you can cross the border to Mexico and buy prescription drugs cheap and without a docs prescription, saving hundreds of dollars.

    Ask yourself, what would you pay to get 3 mebendazole tabs in Laredo compared to what it would cost in Nuevo Laredo?

    We’re talking serious $$ for a very vanilla drug. Amerikans are idiots. Viva Mexico!

  4. Erik says:

    Thus begins the race to the bottom.

    When I get sick and need a doctor, I don’t want to see his assistant and pay full price.

    I went to a minute clinic for an ear infection and it would have cost me the same if I went to my doctor.