Friday, September 19, 2008

Convenient, Affordable Care: A Parking Lot Away

From John Goodman's Health Policy blog:

HealthFair operates a fleet of mobile screening "Health Coaches" (see photo above) that it parks at destinations around the country. The firm claims to have performed over 1 million preventive screening tests since its founding in 1999.

Their big sellers are preventive screens to assess the risk of heart attack, stroke and aneurism. The 7-test package includes an echocardiogram, electrocardiogram (ekg), an ASI test to detect hardening of the arteries, a stroke/carotid artery ultrasound, a test to detect abdominal aortic aneurysms, a ankle-brachial index and a bone density ultrasound.

HealthFair claims this bundle of tests would cost around $2,300 if performed in a hospital setting but its package deal (with interpretation) is only $195 - an 85% discount off the price of having the same tests performed piecemeal at your local hospital. Why so cheap? For one thing, HealthFair streamlines the scanning process, keeping overhead low and offering package deals. But the primary reason the price is so dramatically lower is that patients are expected to pay cash at the time of services. When patients pay with their own dollars, firms must offer value and convenience.

Now that 77 million baby boomers have reached middle-age and beyond, these type of health screening services promise to help assess cardiac health risk at a price all can afford. Just look for the big green motor coach at your local YMCA, Bally Total Fitness, Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market or Albertson's. (Appointments are required.)

HT: Ben Cunningham

MP: They'll be at four Rite-Aids in Michigan over the next few weeks. Search by zip code here.


At 9/20/2008 10:58 PM, Blogger Jen said...

I think preventative health is a wonderful concept as one can try to make lifestyle changes before entering into crisis mode. Yet, my only question here is the fact that the screenings are fairly "inexpensive" but what happens after the screening?

If health issues arise and specific medical treatments or perscription drugs are needed, what then? Especially if the individual does not carry perscription drug coverage or health insurance.

I remember back to the time when I was pregnant. A specific test can be done to find out if the fetus has anything "wrong" with it - sometimes the doctors can take measures to "correct" problems. Yet, when I pushed for more answers about the reason for the test, I came to the self discovery that it would not matter what the results were of the test - I would do nothing to change the course of the pregnancy. Thus, I opted not to have the test. Nothing would change - why spend the time, money and energy on a test that had no overall value.

We can ask ourselves the same here - preventative screenings are great - but what will one do to change or alter the course of what is learned? If it is a simple lifestyle change, such as diet or exercise great (thinking bone density here) - but if it is something more severe (heart health) which requires long term perscriptive drugs or care, what then?

If I'm on a limited income, how does the screening make my life any better if I cannot afford to get better?

The concept is great, but it needs to go a few steps further and answer the question - "what next?"

At 9/22/2008 12:38 PM, Blogger The Happy Hospitalist said...

paying $200 for a test you don't need is $200 too much. These tests pry on fear.


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