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Blue Cross Blue Shield Breaks Immediate Care Barrier

Blue is now taken at Take Care.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida announced this week that effective right away, its four million subscribers can receive benefits under their health insurance plan for medical services provided at Take Care Health Health Systems immediate care centers located inside Walgreens drug stores throughout the state of Florida. With more than 80 percent of all insured Floridians now covered under BCBS health insurance plans, Walgreens is looking to boost visitors to its Take Care locations in hopes of creating a one-stop-shop for medical care.

Walgreens is rapidly playing catch-up in the trend toward walk-in medical care as its top competitor, CVS is rapidly boosting its retail healthcare presence in the Florida market. CVS’ MinuteClinic walk-in health care chains first started popping up inside its own pharmacies in 2002. The clinics boast over 4 million visits and accept health insurance coverage from most of the major health insurance companies in the nation. Last month, MinuteClinic announced it would begin accepting Humana insurance plans.

Insurance companies and medical care providers are encouraging patients to seek out medical care at so-called immediate care centers as a method of reducing overall healthcare delivery costs. When compared to a typical visit to a private physician or an emergency room, retail walk-in clinics are usually cheaper to use as they are typically staffed by nurses and nurse practitioners and confine their treatment to minor illnesses and injuries.

Health insurance companies are taking a cue from the retail pharmacy industry by becoming more of a retail brand themselves. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida is building a chain of its own “Blue” locations throughout the state. Initially, the insurance giant plans to provide consumer advice and consultations about its insurance plans. Nurses will also be available at the stores to provide simple physical exams and other routine medical care provided for under family health insurance. Look for BCBS to open new stores in Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa and Orlando soon.

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