Retail Health Clinics Could Mean More Savings

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Retail clinics operated inside drug and discount stores nationwide are expanding their coverage, which could mean significant consumer savings on health care, especially for the uninsured.

Some ‘Take Care’ clinics in Walgreens (Stock Quote: WAG) drug stores are now offering to treat patients with chronic diseases like asthma and osteoporosis, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Currently, as part of a pilot program, Take Care clinics in Tampa and Orlando, Fla. are accepting patients who need regular injections or infusions as treatment for chronic conditions. If those clinics are successful, the practice could expand nationwide.

In-store retail health clinics, which often charge less than the cost of a doctor’s visit, have gained popularity in recent years, but several have recently been shuttered because low prices for consumers made it more difficult for clinics to recoup startup costs, the Journal says.  Even Wal-Mart Stores (Stock Quote: WMT) cut their expansion plans.

In-store clinics have commonly checked blood pressure, administered immunizations and flu shots, and treated common conditions like upper respiratory infections, sinusitis, ear infections and urinary tract infections, but expanding the conditions they treat could both boost foot traffic to the clinics and save consumers money.

For example, Target (Stock Quote: TGT) is advertising flu shots starting at $24 and retail clinics at Walgreens are offering them for $24.99, whereas at a doctor’s office, getting a flu shot might cost as much as a regular appointment or at least your co-payment for an office visit.

Additionally, Walgreens is offering $1 million worth of free shots to uninsured adults and CVS (Stock Quote: CVS) is offering $3 million in flu shots to the unemployed.

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