Boston, MA 04/05/2013 (wallstreetpr) – America’s largest drugstore chain Walgreen Company (NYSE:WAG) (Current: $46.90, Up by 0.67%) is in expansion mode. It is moving into the domain of treatment of asthma, diabetes as well as other chronic illnesses. The Affordable Care Act will make a larger number of people eligible and able to acquire insurance and the company wants to tap this market. Walgreen has around 370 Take Care Clinics in its and more than 330 of them are now advising customers on laboratory test treatments and offering services such as chronic care. Its rivals CVS Caremark Corporation (NYSE:CVS) (Current: $55.35, Up by 0.07%) Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE:RAD) (current: $1.72, Down by 0.58%) are also following similar strategies and moving beyond the flu-shot and prescriptions domain.
The need of the hour
This change of work-mode has been brought on by the increase in the aging population in the country and a large number of customers complain about inadequate access to medical services and doctors when they need them. Pollution-related and lifestyle-related illnesses are on the rise and chronic ailments are becoming more common now. In many cases, instant treatment is necessitated. A Chief Medical Officer and physician for the Take Care Clinics, Alan London said that requests for medical treatments and complaints about the unavailability of doctors are not isolated cases. There have been numerous instances wherein patients say that they are there because they were unable to get a doctor’s appointment.
Opposition from private practices
Interestingly, the Walgreen strategy has raised competition in the market and 75 percent of doctors now offer same-day scheduling for patients. Over 50 percent offer evening or weekend hours said the president of the American Academy Of Family Physicians, Jeffrey Chain. This Kansas-based group represents 106,000 doctors. According to a statement by the Academy, it opposes these retail clinics that provide services that go beyond minor illnesses. The specific objection is to the chronic illness treatment services that these clinics provide.
Cain a Denver-based family physician said that this kind of rampant expansion will mean that patients will receive treatment for different illnesses from various places which in effect leads to further fragmentation of the already scattered healthcare system. The new health law that received the Congress nod in 2010 may afford around 27 million people extended health cover for the next ten years and people who are currently uninsured will be benefiting from it. An estimated 8 million people are expected to enroll for Medicaid programs in 2013. This projected growth has been attributed to the expansion.
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