The “bodega clinicas” that line the bustling commercial streets of immigrant neighborhoods around Los Angeles are wedged between money order kiosks and pawnshops. These storefront offices, staffed with Spanish-speaking medical providers, treat ailments for cash: a doctor’s visit is $20 to $40; a cardiology exam is $120; and at one bustling clinic, a colonoscopy is advertised on an erasable board for $700.
County health officials describe the clinics as a parallel health care system, serving a vast number of uninsured Latino residents. Yet they say they have little understanding of who owns and operates them, how they are regulated and what quality of medical care they provide. Few of these low-rent corner clinics accept private insurance or participate in Medicaid managed care plans.
“Someone has to figure out if there’s a basic level of competence,” said Dr. Patrick Dowling, the chairman of the family medicine department at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Read more at the NY Times