An Open Letter: Healthcare

A reasonably simple solution to help fix healthcare in the US. Not a complete fix, not a miracle. This isn’t some government controlled subsidy or program. Completely private. Maybe there could be some tax breaks for it, or maybe some local gov subsidy, but not Federal.

**In this letter, I speak of Walmart – mainly because it is the largest national chain with the space and resources for such a plan. However, other business may also choose to participate, and in fact some already are. Publix, in Florida has something similar – and indeed, Walmart already does in some locations as well.**

There’s some axioms in this world. One of them is that poor people have bad health coverage and less access to good healthcare. Another is that there are Walmarts within walking distance of most less affluent areas.

Now, before anyone gets upset – I’ve been to a Walmart in Pennsylvania which hosts a clinic in their front mall area. It was a pleasant experience, considering the reason I was there. The clinic was (as of 4 years ago) operated by the local hospital. They operated somewhere between an urgent care and nursing station.

My idea is to have Walmart be encouraged to host these clinics in all of their locations within walking distance of areas in need. Walmart would work with the local health authorities (hospitals and local/state governments) for staffing and operational funding. There are plenty of hospitals, or even doctor associate groups which could provide staffing and funding. This would be beneficial for hospitals to staff, as they would be offloading their emergency room intake for non-critical cases to other areas. The operating entity would then have access to all of their insurance providers, including government health assistance programs.

Walmart could be given a tax break for each location, deducting the square footage from their yearly tax bill. This would encourage both the introduction of the clinic, as well as ensuring it is given plenty of space for operating.

I envision these clinics being able to provide free healthcare to children and possibly the elderly (60+ perhaps), and affordable healthcare for anyone over 16. This would be from minor medical questions (What’s this rash on my leg?) to minor non-emergency wounded. The staff would be able to handle situations such as patients requiring stitches – provided the bleeding is controlled, etc – basically anything that does not require a full tenured doctor. A basic walk-in clinic. These clinics can provide affordable and easy access for vacinations; infection treatements, sprains and bruises.

In some locations, I could see having a “specialization of the day” for medical prevention as well. This could include a women’s health day, men’s health day, Children’s health day, Ear-Nose-Throat day. Having as many different specializations as possible, spread out weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or even seasonally. These would be introductory services, providing resources and referals as needed. These would all be walk-in, first come, first served services.

Business-wise, these would be extensions of the local hospitals or doctors groups. This means any payment method which is accepted by the main business, should also be accepted at these clinics, including cash, insurane and government assistance.

From a sociology perspective, having these clinics in such accessible locations can help to deter infections diseases (flu, stds, etc), provide for a better quality of life for the area, and help to educate the population. Federal, State and Local laws will of course be obeyed, however the ability for people without transportation to be able to have a medical professional take a look at their issue(s) can help to alleviate un-diagnosed and un-treated ailments and conditions. This could be especially beneficial for young adults (and teens) who are sexually active where embarassment factors could prevent treatement otherwise.

Encouraging the wide-spread deployment of public clinics within the Walmart network of stores can greatly increase the overall public health of the country. The CDC can also get more accurate and larger samples of statistics regarding infectious diseases. Over-worked emergency room staff will be able to focus on higher priority cases.

These clinics are intended to fill a void in healthcare accessibility. Where other healthcare options are already plentiful within walking distance of less affluent neighborhoods, these would not be neccisary but still allowable.

I hope this will make it to the eyes of someone much more influential than I and can get this started as a standard operating procedure for retail business.