Getting Less for More
In a recent interview on NPR, Peter Orszag, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, noted that that as much as $700 billion a year in healthcare costs do not improve health outcomes. It occurs because we pay for more care rather than better care.
Urgent care retail clinics are an example of a healthcare innovation that is very successfully addressing this problem. Staffed primarily by nurse practitioners and located in supermarkets, drug stores, and discount stores, these clinics have dramatically improved access to care for people without insurance, are incredibly convenient for after-hours care, and have helped millions avoid trips to the emergency room for minor health issues, such as ear infections, upper respiratory infections, and urinary tract infections.
While consumers have embraced this concept, in some states, there has been opposition from medical groups who have raised issues about the quality and continuity of care. According to Edmonds and Scudder, researchers have found that these concerns are unwarranted. Most people do not have primary care providers, and the people who use these clinics the most (ages 18-44) would likely fail to seek care if this option was not available, which would ultimately increase the cost of treatment.
I have had excellent success using these clinics and wouldn't hesitate to recommend this option to people needing urgent care for minor health problems. To me, it seems like a good example of getting more for less!
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