Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Defend Wal-Mart Care

Back in 2008 I went to a town hall on the presidential election organized by the Seattle NPR station, KPLU. PBS and Fox News personality Juan Williams was there to liven up the contributions of the KPLU reporters.

Of course, the agenda included a comparison between ObamaCare and McCainCare. But wait, I wanted to say. What about Wal-Mart Care?

You may not know it but Wal-Mart has a health care program. It has in-store clinics where you can get to see a health care professional for routine medical problems.

Wal-Mart started these clinics in part to provide another low-priced service to its price-conscious customers, and in part to keep the cost of employee health care down.

Now there's information from the Rand Corporation on the effectiveness of Wal-Mart care, reported by Margaret Shapiro in The Washington Post. The results are in and they are good.

Walk-in medical clinics run by CVS, Wal-Mart and other retailers provide care for routine illnesses that is as good as, and costs less than, similar care offered in doctors' offices, hospital emergency rooms and urgent care centers, according to a new Rand Corp. study. The cost savings over emergency rooms, in particular, was quite dramatic.
So I'm sure that the president and our Democratic friends are running, not walking, over to Wal-Mart to find out how they do it, and how Wal-Mart's approach to health care could be scaled up and adopted by the public sector.

How much better was Wal-Mart than the emergency rooms? Here's what the Rand study said:

"The costs of care in retail clinics were 30 to 40 percent lower than in physician offices and urgent care centers and 80 percent lower than in emergency departments[.]"

You can see the danger here. It's not likely that the brilliant policy analysts at the White House have given a thought to health care the Wal-Mart way. For one thing, if Wal-Mart really made a success of this, and started expanding from routine care into treatment of common chronic conditions, then the need for a comprehensive and mandatory system of politically controlled health care would recede.

There is another way, you know.

Thomas Sowell, always good for a pithy comment, recalls how he'd spent many years without health insurance, and how and his wife paid for the delivery of their child on the installment plan.

The birth of my first child was not covered by medical insurance. I paid off the bill, month by month, until the time finally came when I could tell my wife that the baby was now ours, free and clear.

So here is a concept. Let's most of us pay for routine care at the Wal-Mart drop-in clinic. Let's pay for our babies on the installment plan. And let's keep insurance for the big stuff. And I mean by that, protecting our homes. Yes. That's the purpose of insurance: protecting our assets from disaster, natural or medical.

And let's be sure to defend Wal-Mart care from the inevitable attacks from its liberal critics. Why, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the workers in their clinics are non-union.

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