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Friday, January 9, 2009

Drive-Through Docs Find Success in Bay Area

Clinics are opening up throughout the Bay Area that let people take trips to the doctor cheaper and faster than mainstream health care allows.

It’s one step away from drive-through health care.

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You can get everything from stitches for a cut to cholesterol screenings at reasonable prices at new health care shops opening up throughout the Bay A...

Drive-Thru Health care Could Save a Bundle

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Clinics are opening up throughout the Bay Area that let people take trips to the doctor cheaper and faster than mainstream health care allows.

Many people say the timing is right because so many of them have lost jobs and insurance coverage that they like the idea of a McMenu for their health care.

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.

This new breed of health care is lowering some peoples’ stress levels.

“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.

The grand total for Wednesday -- $59.

“It’s more easy when you come in and see the prices and all that and you know what you are going to pay,” he said.

Just like Starbucks when you order a latte, there are a few specials listed up on a board for everyone to see.

Try the “Healthy Lover Special"

On Wednesday flu shots cost only $19. Patients also benefit from package deals, like the “healthy lover special” for only $199. It includes a physical exam and STD and HIV tests.

“Quick Health” is open until 7 p.m. on most nights. People never need an appointment or insurance.

The concept is apparently taking off. There are now six “Quick Health” centers in the Bay Area serving more than 80,000 patients.

The lousy economy is bringing people in droves to the centers.

“That’s one unfortunate thing,” said CEO Dave Mandelkern. “When it comes to the economy, people are laid off and lose insurance and the stress of a losing a job often sparks illness. So we see an uptick in business as the economy goes down.”

While you can get a liver function test there, it is not the place to come if you break your arm or have a heart attack. Consider it the new family doctor found inside your neighborhood mall, Mandelkern said.

The centers are located in San Jose, San Mateo, Fremont, Oakland and San Francisco.

Because people without insurance can come there for basic care at an affordable price, some doctors feel the clinics may help reduce crowding in emergency rooms.

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