When You Just Need a Couple of Minutes Of Care (And the CVS Minute Clinic is more like the Hour Clinic)

December 2, 2011 in Member Stories

The name is so appealing, isn’t it? “Minute Clinic.” And the other day, when I figured I needed literally about three minutes of care, I thought I’d give it a try…but I should have realized that like so much in life, it all depends on timing, and mine was particularly bad. Wondering if anybody else has tried a CVS Minute Clinic, and how it went??

My story: I’d been coughing my guts out for well over a week. There was clearly a cough-producing bug ripping through my children’s school, so I figured it was viral. But there had also been several reports of pneumonia, so I thought maybe I should just have somebody with a stethoscope take a listen to my lungs, just to be sure. I didn’t want to trek downtown and wait to see my own doctor — why should three minutes of care have to take an hour and a half? Part of that reluctance was surely sheepishness, too — it was ‘just a cough,” after all, not worth big time and effort…

I stopped in to a little storefront clinic right near our house that I’d always assumed was a “pay-as-you-go” clinic, but turned out it was a serious internal medicine practice — one our insurance carrier didn’t include in our network. My best friend had reported a good experience with a Minute Clinic in Virginia last summer, so I figured I’d try the one in Porter Square. Yes, it was twenty-plus minutes away and I could have gotten downtown in that time, but let’s say the cough was slightly impairing my thinking.

I got there at 12:30, and squeezed my car into the Porter Square lot. I knew they took an hour-long lunch break at 1, but I thought “Minutes, right? They must be able to fit me in!”

Wrong. ‘Minute Clinic” doesn’t mean “a couple of minutes for each patient”, it means 15 minutes for each patient. There were three people in line ahead of me, so the practitioner told me — kindly but firmly — not to bother getting in line unless I could wait until 2. I could not. I came into work fuming about the American health care system, but I”m thinking maybe this is actually a temporary failure of capitalism. All you entrepreneurs out there, could somebody please start a “Two-minute Clinic” that really literally lets people come in with no wait, ask for and receive what they know they need from a health care practitioner,  and get out of there?

A note on cost: Our national health insurance carrier would have covered the Minute Clinic. It looks like the basic charge is about $79 per visit.

I wouldn’t trade my beloved husband for anything, but I do confess to one moment of wishing that I’d fulfilled every Jewish mother’s dream and married a doctor. Then at least I could say, “Honey, could you listen to my cough with the stethoscope?” Actually, I wonder if that’s a skill we laypeople could easily be trained  to do at home, at least for a preliminary listen?

Never did have anybody listen to my cough. But it’s getting a little better every day…


3 responses to When You Just Need a Couple of Minutes Of Care (And the CVS Minute Clinic is more like the Hour Clinic)

  1. I went there once and waited for four hours! I got there on a Friday at noon and was pretty much free until 5PM when I had to pick my son up from school. I felt awful, and had horrible health insurance, so I thought their opinion would be cheap and quick. I sat there playing solitaire on my phone until they finally saw me at 4PM. It is NOT a minute-clinic.

  2. Jameel – you have a regular doctor now, right?

  3. Of course, the solution would be for the Minute Clinic to add another physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner to handle the busy times when there is a line, but keep in mind that they can’t just add in an extra person for certain hours and each is likely a $60,000-80,000 yearly expense for them. I’m not defending them, but it is the same cost/capacity issue as in the doctor’s office.

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