Fast-food style health care
Wal-Marts and other convenient locations are opening up walk-in acute care clinics where patients can get quick treatment for simple ailments such as athlete's foot, or get a vaccination.
Critics complain that this will isolate patients from their doctors, but as somebody who's spent a lot of time uninsured, I think it's great. If you don't have a regular physician and you need acute care, it can be tough to find a doctor who accepts new patients -- especially uninsured new patients. And new-patient visits are often terribly expensive. Not to mention this puts people more in control of their health care spending.
The care is provided by nurse-practitioners with physician backup, which is the kind of inexpensive but high-quality care my family got at a local practice in Pennsylvania. Our doctor used physician assistants who saw most patients, and who called in the doctor when the patient's needs demanded more expertise. We got great care for only $35 a visit -- something that a hand-to-mouth family can manage. The social worker there also helped patients to get free medications through pharmaceutical company programs.
Sometimes cutting corners reduces the quality of care, but for simple ailments like athlete's foot, pinkeye, or a simple sinus infection, these places make sense. They give patients who couldn't otherwise afford to go to a doctor a chance to get care instead of suffering longer trying home remedies.