NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 2, 2007

Much of the recent debate about how to reform our inefficient, two trillion-dollar health-care system has revolved around who should pay.  However, the problem will not be fixed until we find ways to increase access and reduce costs that have been rising for many years at more than twice the rate of inflation, says Web Golinkin, president and CEO of RediClinic, LLC, and director and co-founder of the Convenient Care Association.

One of the most promising developments is the emergence of retail-based "convenient care" clinics:

  • These clinics generally are staffed by certified nurse practitioners who diagnose, treat and prescribe medications for a limited set of common ailments, such as strep throat and ear infections.
  • Treatment for most common ailments ranges from $40 to $70 and preventive services start as low as $15, significantly less than what most physicians, urgent care clinics or emergency rooms charge.
  • Most are open seven days a week, including extended hours on weekdays; no appointments are necessary, and visits take only about 15 minutes due to the clinics' limited set of services.

Some physician organizations, however, are pushing for new regulations that would impede the growth of these clinics through expensive permitting requirements, further limitations on the number of nurse practitioners that an individual physician can supervise and prohibitions against advertising that compares the fees of convenient care clinics with those of physicians, says Golinkin.  This is exactly the kind of price transparency our health-care system needs.

Instead of opposing convenient care, physicians should be working collaboratively with operators -- as many physicians are today -- to fill the critical need that all Americans share for easier access to high-quality, affordable health care, say Stern and Golinkin.

Source: Web Golinkin, "Health Care When You Want It," Wall Street Journal, August 2, 2007.

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