Target's Free Market Health Care Innovation

Mark Perry at CARPE DIEM posted a photo he took at his local Super Target, which was advertising $29 physicals for kids' camps and sports. He writes:
So while President Obama and politicians in Washington dream up the latest grandiose government health care reform to address rising health care costs, the most effective, affordable and convenient health care solutions might be right around the corner at your local Target store.
He notes that the clinic is open nearly 70 hours per week, and then shows the list of other services provided, from minor illnesses like ear ache to stitch removal to vaccinations to TB screening, all ranging in price from $29 to $69. He then asks:
Q: In places like Canada and UK with government health care, would this type of affordable, convenient, walk-in, free-market alternative even be allowed?
The obvious implication is, if Obamacare is passed, will this type of alternative be outlawed?

And the not-so-obvious implication is, if we had a truly free market in health care, how much cheaper would such a clinic be than this, how many more services might it provide, what amazing new technologies and drugs might be available (portable, cheap MRIs, OTC cancer drugs genetically targeted to your tumor while you shop for t-shirts and garden supplies)...?

Basically, imagine the best, most amazing advances you can with prices lower than seems possible, and then go twice as far down that path. Target's small offering--likely based on Wal-Mart's moves in this market--is but a tiny taste of what America's health care could be like if the government got out of the way.


susan dawn wake said...

I moved here from Canada about a decade ago, and still have family there. They report increasingly terrible health care options. E.g. appointments limited to 5 minutes and 1 issue per appointment. Got two issues to discuss? Well, you'll need two 5 minute appointments! One member has moved to a different city and been trying to get a new, closer doctor for several years. My parents fear that they will outlive their doctor and be unable to get a new one. I don't know how widespread such problems are, but private clinics are now being allowed, a tacit admission of the failure of gov. run health care. I'm beyond mad that the socialist nonsense I moved away from is now threatening me here.

C. August said...

Thanks for the comment, Susan. I hadn't heard about the difficulty in finding a primary care doctor, or the issues that crop up if you happen to move to a different city. That's scary stuff.

You're dead on with your concern about the Canadian problems surfacing here, and my state of Massachusetts is a prime example. There is a shortage of primary care docs because of the socialized care the state mandates, but the central planners have decided on a different strategy than 5 minute appointments.

They've started group appointments, with multiple people seeing a primary care doc at the same time, but they get to keep their shirts on for privacy.

Here's a detailed look at the issue: "The Flawed Economics of Socialized Medicine."

mtnrunner2 said...

Group appointments? Good grief. I couldn't take that.

But wait... I thought the supply of health care was supposed to just magically keep up with mandated demand.

I think it's time for a Boston Legislator Party.

C. August said...

I know it was Republican and supposed free marketeer, Mitt Romney, who championed the mandatory insurance charge here, and it was the overwhelminly liberal state legislators who happily voted for it...

But I immediately had a vision of dumping Barney Frank, Ed Markey, Ted Kennedy, and John Kerry into Boston Harbor, and I had a nice, long laugh.

Roger Zimmerman said...

Combining two of C. August's posts yields ...

An image of Barney Frank, Ted Kennedy, Ed Markey, and John Kerry having a group appointment with their Primary Care physician!

Now _that_ is a picture for which I would pay some good coin.

C. August said...


As long as they keep their shirts on for (our) sanity.

Stephen said...

I thought the emanations an penumbras of the Constitution prohibited the government from interfering in the private relationship between physician and patient?

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