An anonymous reader wrote to us to ask what he should do about unexpected bills from a medical clinic. He chose the clinic precisely because he can’t afford hospital bills in the hundreds of dollars, and was led to believe that there’d be no out-of-pocket cost. It turns out there was. [More]
Walgreen has announced that if you’re willing to provide proof of unemployment and sign a form that says you lost your health benefits along with your job, you and your uninsured family members can receive free treatment at any of their 300+ in-store health clinics. What’s covered: “respiratory problems, allergies, infections and skin conditions, among other ailments.” What’s not: checkups, vaccinations or other injections, and prescriptions.
The first of the new Clinic at Wal-Mart walk-in centers, as they will be called, is to open in Little Rock, Ark., in April and be run by nurse practitioners employed by the St. Vincent Health System, a three-hospital group in central Arkansas.
The American Medical Association is going after in-store clinics being opened by retail giants such as Walmart and Walgreens, according to the Chicago Tribune. The AMA is concerned about potential conflicts of interest between the nurse-practitioners who prescribe the drugs and the pharmacists who fill them.
“Our primary focus is patient safety and patient care, and the retail clinics have a different mission of selling products and prescriptions,” said Dr. Rodney Osborn, a Peoria anesthesiologist who is president of the Illinois State Medical Society, an AMA delegation among the most outspoken on scrutiny of retail clinics. “We want these clinics to be accountable.”
The AMA says it will advocate for increased regulation of the retail clinics. The clinics usually operate 7 days a week and do not require an appointment. There is usually no doctor on site. Patients are charged about $60, even without health insurance. Some clinics waive a patient’s copay, in a move that doctor’s say encourages consumers to avoid seeing a physician.