Check-Ups While U Wait

New Drive-Thru Clinics opening up in the Bay Area let people take trips to the doctor cheaper and faster than via traditional mainstream health-care. But does it work?

Only in America, one might say, when they first read this story. But lose your health insurance and you may be singing a different tune.

Would you like a wedge of cantelope with that?

Would you like a wedge of cantelope with that?

It’s easy to poke fun at these things as harbingers of the apocalypse right up there with Danny Bonaduce bodyslamming dudes on national TV and that Kansas woman who got stuck to her toilet and didn’t get up for 2 years.

The first time I saw this story, the only thing I could think was you get your Heart Attack Bowl at one window and right direct at the next window you’ve got your Artery Plunger to suck out all the gunk you’ve just put in.

But the idea is more nuanced than that.

If you’ve never tangled with the fragile web of options available to you outside the traditional health-care system, then you’re probably unfamiliar with just how vulnerable someone in that situation can get, and how quickly it happens too. Those of us in the bigger, coastal cities are luckier. In the Bay Area, the clinics are filled with junkies and recent sex-change cases, and the staff are often trying to lump you into either one of those general categories when looking for how to treat you, but at least there are clinics there, if you need them, in cases of emergency. In most American cities, that just isn’t an option.

Today’s America is a strange place, and getting stranger everyday.

At one San Jose pharmacy called “Quick Health,” people can buy everything from makeup and toilet paper, to cholesterol tests or stitches for a minor cut.

“It’s more simple than a clinic or hospital,” said Ruben Robalino, a patient. “That’s why I come here.” Robalino was waiting to see a family practice physician. He said because the prices were posted on a menu board like at a fast food restaurant, he knows exactly how much he will pay during the visit, unlike a trip to a medical center.

[And] … Just like Starbucks when you order a latte, there are a few specials listed up on a board for everyone to see. Like the “healthy lover special” for only $199. It includes a physical exam and STD and HIV tests.

With the economy as it is, and with people looking for ways to make ends meet this is not as surprising as it sounds. In a way, it’s even kind of recursive.

  1. We invent the drive-thru.
  2. Fast food makes us unhealthy.
  3. Grass-roots doctors serve health-care through the drive-thru.

Whatever its flaws, Quick Health is certainly better than trying to self-diagnose with WebMD. I’m afraid to even look at that site anymore, for fear that I’ll inherit another rare genetic disorder just by typing in “sore hand, cramps from blogging”.

(via NBC)

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