Free Market Forces and Urgent Care Centers

An interesting reference to urgent care is found in an essay titled, “In Defense of Consumerism,” by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. (Founder of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Alabama). Consumerism has been much-maligned as merely giving plebeian access to superfluous items such as cappuccinos and gas guzzling SUVs, but Rockwell points out:

But are people buying superfluous things that they can do without? Certainly. But who is to say for sure what is a need as versus a mere want? A dictator who knows all? How can we know that his desires will accord with my needs and yours? In any case, in a market economy, wants and needs are linked, so that one person’s necessities are met precisely because other people’s wants are met.

Here is an example.

If my grandchild is desperately sick, I want to get her to a doctor. The urgent care clinic is open late, as is the drug store next door, and thank goodness. I’m in and out, and I have the medicine and materials necessary to restore her to health. No one would say that this is a superficial demand.

But it can only stay open late because its offices are nestled in a strip mall where the rents are low and the access is high. The real estate is shared by candy stores, sports shops selling scuba gear, a billiard hall, and a store that specializes in party favors – all stores selling “superficial” things. All pay rent. The developer who made the mall wouldn’t have built the place were it not for these less urgent needs.

The same is true for the furniture and equipment and labor used in the urgent-care clinic. They are less expensive and more accessible than they otherwise would be due to the persistence of non-essential consumer demands. The computers they use are up-to-date and fast precisely because technicians and entrepreneurs have innovated to meet the demands of gamers, gamblers, and people who use the web to do things they shouldn’t. . . .

Rockwell’s point is true that the consumer’s demand for convenient, after-hours access to medical care has produced the much-needed urgent care center in his own neighborhood. Whether or not you agree with Rockwell’s premise that consumerism is a force for the good of society, it is refreshing to see intelligent recognition of economic forces that have produced the much-needed urgent care centers and the technology (such as Practice Velocity Urgent Care Solutions) that helps make urgent care centers more efficient.

This resource was first published prior to the 2019 merger between DocuTAP and Practice Velocity. The content reflects our legacy brands.