Wednesday, July 21, 2010

qotd: Cigna's CareToday clinics

Cigna Medical Group
July 19, 2010
Cigna Medical Group Announces Grand Opening of CMG CareToday Clinic in South Chandler, Ariz.

Cigna Medical Group has announced the opening of its newest CMG CareToday convenience care medical clinic in South Chandler, Ariz. This brings the total number of clinics to 10 since CMG CareToday's launch in 2007.

Staffed by board-certified nurse practitioners and physician assistants, the clinics offer walk-in medical care for unscheduled patients with low acuity conditions such as colds, flu, sore throat, lower back pain, ear aches, bladder infections and pink eye. In addition, the clinics offer pregnancy tests and child and adult immunizations, including flu shots. School, sports and camp physicals are also available. 
"CMG CareToday is a convenient alternative that can accommodate local residents who may be unable to see their primary care physician because of time or other issues," said Corinne Bell, DO, MBA, medical director of CMG CareToday. "Expanding the number of clinics Valleywide gives residents a place to go for non-emergency care and provides quick relief for common illnesses."

First time visits to any CMG CareToday location are $29 retail; subsequent visits are $59. Lab services range from $10 to $15 and a select number of generic prescription medications are available for $10 or $15. CIGNA customers, and individuals covered under other accepted health plans, pay only their office visit co-pay or co-insurance. Additionally, Cigna Medical Group patients who visit CMG CareToday will have their medical records transferred seamlessly through an electronic health record directly to their primary care physician for future follow-up.

About Cigna Medical Group

Cigna Medical Group, the multi-specialty group practice division of CIGNA HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., is one of the Valley's largest group practices with more than 30 offices located throughout Metropolitan Phoenix, including three Urgent Care centers and 10 CMG CareToday convenience care clinics. To learn more about Cigna Medical Group and the services they provide, please visit

About CIGNA Corporation

CIGNA (NYSE: CI), a global health service company, is dedicated to helping people improve their health, well being and sense of security. CIGNA Corporation's operating subsidiaries provide an integrated suite of medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision care benefits, as well as group life, accident and disability insurance, to approximately 46 million people throughout the United States and around the world. To learn more about CIGNA, visit

Comment:  Cigna is no longer simply one of the largest, for-profit, private insurance corporations in the nation, it is now a component of the health care delivery system. From the Cigna Medical Group website: "CIGNA is the only managed care organization in Arizona that operates multi-specialty centers designed to help you conveniently receive care and move on with your busy day."

With tighter regulation under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the private insurers are looking for innovative solutions that will ensure a bright future for their executives and shareholders. What better opportunity is there than to expand their intrusion into health care delivery? Imagine the expansion of a chain of nurse practitioner- and physician assistant-staffed convenience care clinics with CIGNA branding in bright neon lights.

What next? Accountable care organizations (ACOs) with full control of physicians and hospitals? Imagine each hospital in your community with a building-top mounted branding neon sign - WELLPOINT, UNITEDHEALTH, AETNA, CIGNA, HEALTH NET, HUMANA, though further consolidation could leave us with maybe just three market choices: WellPoint, UnitedHealth, and Kaiser Permanente. Maybe we could end up with only one: UnitedWellPoint.

Though this seems farcical, instead of simply controlling the puppet strings of health care - the insurance function - these national corporations would like to take over the puppets as well.

You say that's impossible? I remember telling my colleagues what we could expect when the legislation passed that enabled the managed care revolution. They said that the scenario I described was impossible, and, besides, they would never sign the contracts anyway. It didn't take long.

How could we end up with one or more UnitedWellPoints? The steamrollers for ACOs are fired up and beginning to roll. Physicians will have almost no say in this transformation. The fight for control will be between the hospitals and the major private insurers. What kind of a contest will that be with thousands of local hospitals competing for control with a few large national insurance companies that already hold the money?

Wouldn't it be much safer to give entire control of the purse strings to an improved Medicare? At least then any redesign of the health care delivery system would benefit patients rather than shareholders.

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