Health insurance providers are increasingly stepping into the world of in-store clinics, becoming both the payer and the provider of care. While rival hospitals and doctor groups are keeping a close eye on the emerging trend, health insurers continue to offer more plans to entice patients into their own clinics, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Health insurers are banking on clinics bringing down costs of care by reducing hospitalizations and improving access to preventive care.
UnitedHealth Group, which owns the nation’s largest health insurance plan UnitedHealthcare, is offering a health plan around its Optum business, including its network of doctors, surgery centers and urgent care clinics.
Another provider, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Texas, launched a plan with free primary care visits at its new clinics through a partner company in Houston and Dallas, with prices for coverage 12% to 18% below another product it offers statewide.
CVS Health’s acquisition of Aetna has led to more appealing plan choices, as well, such as no co-pays for MinuteClinic visits.
Hospitals, meanwhile, find the trend “worrisome,” as they may lose patient volume to these new choices.
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