The latest figures from the United States Census Bureau are from 2008. As of September of 2010, 50.7 million Americans have no health care insurance. The reasons for this are many and they are grim. Employers cutting jobs, companies eliminating health care insurance for employees, families cutting insurance coverage to cut costs, the escalating cost of health care are just a few. It's been three years since the recession began and presently, there is no end in sight. The talking heads on TV say there is some evidence that the recession is over, but the fifty million uninsured Americans haven't seen that evidence.
Retail Clinics to the Rescue?
Those uninsured Americans may have other resources, however. Right about the time the recession began, a proliferation of retail clinics sprang up. You've seen them. They're the clinics in places like pharmacies, Walmart, and Target. They are a viable alternative to primary care physicians when people can't take time off their job, if they have a job, to see their doctor. They are a relief to people who can't wait two weeks for an appointment with their doctor. They are a welcome thing when people aren't sick enough to need an emergency room visit, but still need to be seen by a medical professional.
Add to that the fact that many doctors can accept no new patients. Many physicians split the workload with registered nurse practitioners, licensed practical nurses and physician assistants. Appointments have been known to take up to a month to obtain. The sheer numbers of people with health concerns compared to the number of doctors available make these clinics a relief to both doctors and patients.
Basic Services Only
These facilities are staffed by registered nurse practitioners and physician assistants who are capable of diagnosing health concerns and giving simple treatments in the absence of an overseeing physician. Their scope of diagnosis and treatment is necessarily limited to that which needs no blood work nor imaging such as throat and respiratory ailments, vaccinations and the like. Comparison reports done by the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health show that such clinics provide a necessary service and are well regarded.
Retail clinics cost less for treatments than an office visit to a doctor, for example. They accept most insurance, but for the uninsured, they can be a blessing. It is not known how many people don't see their doctor because they simply can't pay for it. In retail clinics, preventive regimes, medications and testing can cost from thirty to one hundred dollars, often half the price a physician would charge, which is a major consideration for the other-than-wealthy and the uninsured. For the insured, some insurance companies even waive the co-pay for clinic visits.
For after hours or when the illness doesn't require emergency room care, urgent care clinics are available when retail clinics are closed. The premise is the same, these clinics are staffed with the same medical professionals, the same financial arrangements prevail, making them a viable alternative for the uninsured. These clinics, however, are possessed of diagnostic equipment and, in some cases, laboratory equipment.
It's a Start
It is a profound problem that fifty million Americans have no health care insurance. The retail clinics and urgent care clinics are trying with might and main to even the odds. As more of them open their doors, they will be helping to prevent unnecessary visits to emergency rooms, which will somewhat lower medical costs. They provide the uninsured with alternatives to costly doctor visits, which will also help lower medical costs. Retail clinics are a good beginning to answering the health care insurance problem.
Jessica Bosari is an Internet copywriter and blogger for various publications and her own blog. You can read more of Jessica's work here. If you have any comments or questions about SavingTools or about saving money, leave your comments in the form below or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!