Can Walk-in Clinics Cut Health Care Costs?

Here is one study (HT to Austin Frakt, who provides commentary):

Care initiated at retail clinics is 30% to 40% cheaper than similar care at physician offices and approximately 80% cheaper than similar care at emergency departments. If the growth in retail clinic visits we observed represents substitution for other sources of care, then the increase in retail clinic use could lead to lower costs. However, if these visits represented new utilization (i.e., patients seeking care when previously they would have stayed at home), then costs could increase.

Comments (5)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Ken says:

    I think these clinics are great. They represent the free market in health care at work.

  2. Joe S. says:

    Of course they can cut health care costs.

  3. Jeff says:

    These are great developments. I agree with Ken. It’s the market at work.

  4. Brian says:

    I wonder if increased usage of retail clinics (as substitution) and/or a proliferation of retail clinics will bring down the costs at emergency clinics or if the higher pricing at emergency clinics is more stagnant at higher levels. It could be that the costs of operating emergency clinics on average is so high due to independent factors that there would be only a minimal impact on pricing.

  5. Buster says:

    Retail clinics would reduce costs if the competition with traditional clinics moves people away from higher-cost places to receive care.