Monday, September 21, 2009

Free flu shots - it's more than being thrifty

We went scavenging for health care this morning.

Ms. KTnomics and I were about 36th in line for this free flu shot offering. Despite some heavy rain, and lightning that delayed the scheduled 10 a.m. opening, 500 doses were spoken for before the needle hit my arm. Hundreds of drivers and passengers who filled half the parking lot of a dead mall got zip.

Our experience is a trifle compared to what happened last month when Remote Area Medical opened a brief free clinic in Los Angeles. RAM is a non-profit volunteer's group originally organized to help desperately poor Third World citizens. They get way too much business here.

They aren't alone. Same thing happens in Maryland, outside Nashville and other places where volunteers set up shop. About 46 million uninsured Americans are looking for medical help where ever they can get it, the Census Bureau estimates.

Retail America offers one possibility. The Los Angeles Times reports that Walgreen's, CVS, Walmart and other companies are expanding some of the services they provide in kiosk clinics in their stores., an online news service, reports that the in-store clinics provide high quality simple services for less money than traditional medical facilities. The New England Journal of Medicine agrees, but with reservations.

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