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Health plans are buying in to the growing retail clinic movement

Managed Care Weekly Advisor, June 13, 2007

Retail clinics are growing in popularity, as companies like Aetna, CIGNA, CVS and Walgreens are acquiring and partnering with companies like Quick Clinic and MinuteClinic. According to a report from HealthLeaders-Interstudy, health plans are designating the fast clinics as in-network providers for a number of reasons, such as cost transparency, choice and convenience, and popularity.

UnitedHealthcare and RediClinic signed a contractual agreement that includes nine new clinics in the Richmond, VA area. CVS, the owner of MinuteClinic, has locations in 19 states. Walgreens will purchase Take Care Health Systems with the goal of opening 400 clinics by the end of 2008.

Critics of the trend oppose the clinics because they feel the clinics disrupt the relationship between the patient and the primary care provider. Yet, many clinics can serve patients at a higher rate because they offer a number of non-emergency health services and are easy to access without an appointment.

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