Is this the future of legal help too? A tenfold increase in visits to retail store based health clinics in just two years, as reported by the Washington Post, based on a recent RAND study. The data is based on those covered by commercial insurance, so presumably excludes most medicare and medicaid participants. As the Post summarized the study:
The RAND study breaks down who actually comes to these clinics. The biggest determinant is distance: People who live within one mile of a retail clinic were 7.5 times more likely to visit one than people who lived 20 miles away. Retail clinic patients also tend to have slightly higher incomes and to be female.
The RAND press release adds:
How this trend will affect the rising cost of health care is unclear. Care initiated at retail clinics is 30 percent to 40 percent less expensive than similar care provided at a physician’s office, and 80 percent less expensive than such care provided in an emergency room.
Obviously short term legal matters are less time sensitive than medical ones, and the service can more frequently be delivered remotely, but this data does suggest the possible appeal and disruptive potential of the store-based access system being pioneered in the UK — see prior blog post here.
I often wonder while doing my dishes what the normative distance a low income/disabled/ and otherwise vulnerable person should be required to travel in terms to seek/receive legal services or services (mediation, decisions, filing, etc). Is asking someone to travel 25 miles on average reasonable, unreasonable? 50 miles? What is the current average distance traveled by court decision rendered? By case accepted for litigation by a legal non profit? Does anyone know?
Does that vary if those in need of legal services/court decisions can access legal advice and counsel on the phone (then you wonder about waiting times) or via confidential web chat? I do think that the locality effect is there in legal services. City offices in cities where low income populations still reside tend to get a lot of foot traffic, from the neighborhood. This may have big implications in terms of access to newer poverty groups in the region–perhaps living in the suburbs or outside of the inner city core. I think we should continue looking at providing services (both court decisions by courts, and legal services) in satelite clinics or “urgent care centers” with longer hours. Thanks for sharing this articles.