Rite Aid expands online doctor consultations
Rite Aid has expanded an online doctor service for its drugstore customers that is limited to virtual visits but cheaper than a traditional primary care appointment.
The company, the nation's third-largest drugstore operator with 4,600 stores, said on Friday that its NowClinic Online Care program is available at 58 locations in four cities: Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Its rivals, Walgreen and CVS, also run in-store clinic programs. Walgreen operates more than 370 Take Care clinics, and CVS runs more than 600 MinuteClinics.
Rite Aid's service connects drugstore customers with doctors for a video or phone consultation about a range of ailments such as allergies, bronchitis, rashes, the flu or sinus infections. Rite Aid officials say the concept aims to improve access to health care.
The drugstore's effort occurs less than a year before a wave of new patients is expected to hit the health care system when the federal health care overhaul expands insurance coverage to millions of people. Some are worried about primary care doctors' ability to keep up with the expected influx of patients.
“It's just one more avenue for someone who needs some form of acute care medical attention to get it,” said Robert Thompson, Rite Aid's executive vice president of pharmacy. “It's certainly easier than going to the emergency room.”
Insurers don't cover Rite Aid's online care service, but it is less expensive than other types of care.
The 10-minute doctor consultations cost $45, while a doctor's office visit could cost someone without insurance more than $100, and an emergency room bill might run several hundred dollars.
Doctors can write prescriptions after consulting with patients, or they can refer them elsewhere for more extensive care. Customers also can have video or phone chats for free with a nurse.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Stocks bounce back from big losses to close relatively flat
- Post-Gazette offers voluntary buyouts in bid to avoid layoffs
- GNC to convert more stores to franchises as sales, profits slip
- Muni bond funds stressed
- Kennametal expects to consolidate plants as it shrinks manufacturing in continuing streamlining; profit drops
- EPA ordered to ease limits on cross-border air pollution that involves Pennsylvania
- Range Resources cuts workforce 11%
- Ambridge’s PittMoss takes off with help from TV show, Mt. Lebanon native Cuban
- Travelers find direct Web route to Priory’s spirited past in North Side
- PPG puts brand 1st in strategy to reach commercial paint market
- United Airlines hack coincided with incursion into government employee data