A Medical Checkup on Aisle Five?

January 3, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - CIGNA HealthCare members in seven states - including those belonging to workplace plans - who suffer routine ailments will soon be able to visit a medical clinic in their local drugstore, grocery location or variety store.

A CIGNA news release said that members will then be able to use doctor-supervised health-care facilities located in a number of retail locations including Target variety stores and CVS pharmacies. The program is set to begin February 1, 2006, the announcement said.

MinuteClinic centers are overseen by physicians and staffed by certified nurse practitioners and physician assistants.The MinuteClinic health care centers operate inIndiana, Minnesota, Maryland, North Carolina , Georgia, Tennessee and Washington. MinuteClinic plans to open new health care centers in several additional states over the next twelve months, the announcement said.

CIGNA HealthCare’s relationship with MinuteClinic is part of the increasingly popular consumer movement underlying many health plan designs. “Because of today’s increasingly busy schedules, members have told us they want flexible hours, convenience, quick and affordable access to a clinician, and more choices in how they handle minor medical conditions,” said Dr. Allen Woolf, a pediatrician and national medical executive for CIGNA HealthCare.

The ease and convenience of a MinuteClinic can be helpful for employees who have traditionally had to take time off from work to see their physician about minor or common ailments. “Having MinuteClinic close by has helped improve productivity and raised employees’ satisfaction with their benefit plan,” said Raymond Brusca, vice president of benefits for Black & Decker, in the CIGNA announcement. “What used to require an employee taking a half day or more off of work is now a 20-minute trip next door.”

MinuteClinic health care centers are open seven days a week with weekday evening hours. No appointment is necessary and patient visits usually take about 15 minutes according to the announcement. With the member’s permission, treatment and screening results are shared with the member’s primary care physician to help ensure that a member’s medical record is kept up-to-date and that any needed follow-up treatment can be developed by the primary care physician.

According to the news release, charges for MinuteClinic visits will be handled the same as primary care physician office visits. Most services at MinuteClinic health care centers are provided for between $49 and $59.

More information is at  http://www.cigna.comand   http://www.minuteclinic.com/ .