Retail Clinics Add Convenience But Also Hike Costs, Study Finds

(By – Chad Terhune, Kaiser health news)

Retail clinics, long seen as an antidote to more expensive doctor offices and emergency rooms, may actually boost medical spending by leading consumers to get more care, a new study shows.

Rather than substituting for a physician office visit or trip to the hospital, 58 percent of retail clinic visits for minor conditions represented a new use of medical services, according to the study published Monday in the journal Health Affairs. Those additional visits led to a modest increase in overall health care spending of $14 per person per year.

“This challenges the conventional wisdom that retail clinics save the health care system money,” said Dr. Ateev Mehrotra, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School. “The increase in spending from new utilization trumps the savings we saw from replacing doctor visits and the emergency department.” Read more…

 

Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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