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The growing convenient care industry continues to gain momentum


WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — Just as a new study emerged, putting a number against retail-based health clinics and indicating that the clinics are poised for strong growth in the coming years, southern Pennsylvania health insurer Independence Blue Cross announced that it is has added coverage for urgent care centers and retail health clinics, and developed a new Web tool to help members locate such facilities. This marks yet another boon for the convenient care industry, which is already experiencing some significant advancements so far in 2012.

Richard Snyder, IBC’s chief medical officer, said that retail-based health clinics and urgent care centers serve as convenient alternative for patients in need of prompt care for nonserious health threats and can help curb overcrowding at the emergency room. This is a point that DSN has stressed for quite some time, and it’s important to acknowledge that third-party payers continue to increasingly embrace the concept.

Not only do such facilities help ease overcrowding at the ER, but they also are very cost-efficient. Research has shown that care initiated at retail clinics is 30% to 40% cheaper than similar care at physician offices and approximately 80% cheaper than similar care at an ER.

Meanwhile, CVS Caremark’s MinuteClinic announced that it not only opened its first clinics in Cincinnati and Dayton, but is has also become an in-network provider with TriWest. TriWest is the Western region plan contractor for Tricare, the healthcare insurance program for Uniformed Service members, retirees and their families. Tricare provides healthcare insurance services to 2.9 million lives in the western region.

MinuteClinic has already contracted with Health Net (Tricare North region contractor) and Humana Military (Tricare South region contractor) and now offers care to Tricare members across the United States.

It’s clear that regardless of who is elected president and what happens to healthcare reform, the convenient care industry has proven the vital role that it plays in helping to keep Americans healthy.

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