NEWS FLASH: Led by Pete Stark (D-CA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA), House Democrats today announced a plan to provide low-cost, high-quality, easy-access primary care to millions of low- and moderate-income Americans, including millions of the uninsured. The plan: override a slew of anachronistic, bureaucratic, anti-entrepreneurial regulations that are thwarting the spread of walk-in clinics in drug stores, shopping malls and big box retail outlets and keeping them from realizing their full potential. Among the regulations to be set aside is legislation authored by Stark himself.
Oops. I was just day dreaming.
The more walk-in clinics are studied, the better they look. And the better they look, the stranger the silence from people who are rarely at loss for words on matters of health policy.
Anyway, this brief experiment in private, for-profit, free enterprise, entrepreneurial, capitalistic medical care is bearing fruit:
- A state of Minnesota study finds walk-ins match the average quality of care found in traditional practice with considerably less variation.
- A HealthPartners study finds that walk-ins reduce overall medical costs by substituting for higher priced emergency-room and primary-care physician visits.
- A RAND study [gated but with abstract] finds that 60% of walk-in patients have no regular physician, making the clinics a potential medical home.
For a review of legal barriers these unsung Florence Nightingales face, see Devon Herrick’s study. Among the opportunities squelched by Stark: (a) The ability of clinics to electronically prescribe at their store’s own pharmacy and (b) the ability of doctors to own clinics and generate self-referrals.
For a survey of the clinics – where they are, who owns them, etc. – see this Merchant Medicine report [gated].