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Target continues expansion of medical clinics

  • Article by: JACKIE CROSBY
  • Star Tribune
  • March 9, 2011 - 12:25 AM

After years of sitting on the sidelines as CVS and Walgreens rapidly opened medical clinics nationwide, Target Corp. said Tuesday it will open eight new Target Clinics by the end of July, including four in the Twin Cities.

It marks the second eight-store burst in six months for the Minneapolis-based retailer, after expanding into Chicago and Palm Beach for the first time in September. The new clinics mean Target will have 44 locations in Minnesota, Maryland, Illinois and Florida.

As the health care landscape changes and consumers become more comfortable using clinics in grocery stores, hospitals, drugstores and mass merchandisers, Target may be gearing up to grab market share from the industry's two biggest players, CVS/Caremark's MinuteClinic and Walgreens' Take Care Clinics.

Nationally there are 1,227 retail clinics in 42 states, according to Merchant Medicine, a Shoreview-based retail clinic research and consulting firm.

Use of retail clinics has risen in the past year as individuals and families face high-deductible plans, said Tom Charland, Merchant Medicine's CEO. The average deductible is well over $1,000 on a basic employer-based health plan, according to a recent study of health plan trends by Mercer LLC.

"These low-end, acute care visits are the first dollars that get spent," Charland said. "People pay for these out-of-pocket expenses at a place where they understand how much it'll cost. The menu is there for them to see."

About 10 to 20 percent of patients who visit retail clinics are uninsured. And many who have health coverage seek the retail medical clinics for low-cost flu shots, basic lab work, convenient hours and quick access to medical care from nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

In addition to the Target Clinic that opened March 2 in Woodbury, new locations are planned at 1300 University Av. in St. Paul, 1750 Robert St. in West St. Paul, and 1515 County Rd. B in Roseville.

Three Target Clinics will open in the Chicago area and one in the Fort Lauderdale-Davie area.

Charland said it was interesting that Target is opening clinics in the inner city or in locations that draw from the Twin Cities core even though the retailer already has 21 locations.

"It shows the model is successful for them here," he said. "The market is becoming more saturated, but they believe they can support it with new clinics."

Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335

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