The cost of health care has been a hot topic for years as politicians, doctors, and patients debate what health care should look like in the future. One trend that has gathered a lot of support from patients and corporations is the use of retail and urgent care clinics in strip malls or shopping centers instead of visiting primary care givers. This article in the New York Times presents some thoughts on both sides of the issue.
Those in favor of retail clinics and urgent care give these reasons for the shift:
- Clinics and urgent care clinics have more flexible schedules. Patients can walk in without a scheduled appointment, and can go anytime. This makes it possible for people to go after work instead of having to take time off for an appointment.
- In many cases the co-pay expense is comparable to visiting a primary care physician.
- Many basic needs, however can be addressed much more cheaply than they would be in a physician’s office.
- Patients can make same-day appointments.
- Patients have the option of getting a virtual consultation at any time.
On the other side, some physicians believe the traditional method of medical care is the best practice because:
- When patients meet with the same doctor over a long period of time, that doctor is better able to help meet their needs because he or she is familiar with the patient’s health history.
- While the retail clinics charge less, particularly compared with emergency rooms, they may increase overall health care spending. For example, “consumers who not long ago would have taken a cough drop or gargled with saltwater to soothe a sore throat now pop into their nearby retail clinic for a strep test.”
- Primary care physicians can gain the trust of patients and their families.
This discussion has only just begun as companies such as Amazon, JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway have joined forced to create a new health care strategy for their employees. CVS Health and Aetna as well as Walmart and Humana have ventured into innovative health care plans as well.