Study: Families with Limited Access to Primary Care Most Likely to Use In-Store Health Clinics

eAlert 04cc6b42-edb1-4d8f-80b3-0a538f9dec69

<p>Health care clinics based in pharmacies, big-box retailers, and other stores have proliferated in recent years. Providing basic preventive services and treating simple health ailments, these clinics have appealed mostly to younger families and people that have difficulty accessing health care services--including the uninsured and minorities.<br><br>But according to <a href="/publications/issue-briefs/2008/dec/checking-up-on-retail-based-health-clinics--is-the-boom-ending
">Checking Up on Retail-Based Health Clinics: Is the Boom Ending?</a>--a new Commonwealth Fund issue brief prepared by researchers at the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC)--only a tiny fraction of American families in 2007 had ever used these in-store clinics. While the number of retail clinics grew from about 60 in 18 states at the beginning of 2006 to more than 900 in 30 states by the end of 2007, only 1.2 percent of families reported they had visited a retail clinic during the past 12 months.<br><br>"While overall use of retail clinics remains modest, families with unmet medical needs tend to use the clinics more than the rest of the population," said Ha T. Tu, M.P.A., an HSC senior researcher who coauthored the study with Genna R. Cohen, an HSC health research assistant.<br><br>Families that reported not getting or delaying needed medical care at some point in the previous 12 months were almost 2.5 times as likely to have used a retail clinic as families without such access problems.<br><br>Continued fall-off in the growth of retail clinics, the authors say, would likely affect underserved Americans who lack affordable alternatives for primary care.</p>