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In-Store Clinics Ready For Customer Flood

The healthcare law will boost growth for retail health clinics.
August 1, 2012

SANTA MONICA, Calif. - With more Americans seeking health care under the health care reform law, in-store clinics are preparing for a boom in business and locations, the Los Angeles Times reports.

With the number of primary-care doctors unable to keep up with the estimated 30 million Americans who will receive health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, retail clinics will likely get a bump in customers. CVS Caremark Corp. and Target Corp., among other retailers, are ramping up their walk-in clinics staffed mostly by nurses who treat routine ailments.

"People could have long wait times to see a doctor as the federal law gets implemented in 2014, and that will drive more interest in these retail clinics," said Ateev Mehrotra, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Rand Corp.

Experts say it��s too early to tell whether in-store clinics will push the U.S. medical costs even higher because of needless care. Others wonder whether more of these type clinics will undermine coordinated care for patients with chronic illnesses.

Consumers love the walk-in ability of these clinics despite the lack of on-site doctors. Many health insurance companies also cover such visits, and the uninsured pay between $70 to $90 per visit�"usually less than the cost at an urgent care or regular doctor��s office.

Currently, more than 1,350 clinics are in such stores as CVS (MinuteClinic), Walgreen (Take Care Clinic), Walmart and Target. So far, the retail clinics have a good performance record, providing comparable care at 30% to 40% less expensive than a doctor��s office.