Walmart announced it will begin several healthcare pilot programs for its U.S. employees starting Jan. 1 as it looks for ways to cut healthcare costs.
The retail giant will pilot a program in Arkansas, Florida and Texas — connecting patients with local doctors in an effort to cut down on its workers relying on word of mouth or social media to find a doctor. It is a significant move considering Walmart is the largest U.S. private-sector employer with a 1.4 million workforce.
But that’s not all — in North Carolina and South Carolina, the company will test a concierge service to address issues with billing, fix appointments, understand a diagnosis and find a provider. In Colorado, Wisconsin and Minnesota — Walmart will expand a program that allows patients to video chat with a doctor from home for $4 per chat.
Furthermore — across the U.S. — the retailer will also offer workers access to fitness clubs for $9 per bi-weekly pay period and add a predictable co-pay of $35 for every visit to a primary care physician under its most popular medical plan.
On the other hand, Walmart is also beefing up its presence in the fast-growing health and wellness market in the country. One of its initiatives includes the expansion of an education program it began last year by offering healthcare degrees, aimed at filling critical roles at its more than 5,000 retail pharmacies.
Also, last year it signed a deal with Anthem to attract more Medicare enrollees to buy over-the-counter medicines and supplies at its stores.
And finally, this month Walmart opened a facility in Georgia to offer low-priced health services that include dental, x-rays, and mental health counseling.
The retail giant is well placed to make more than a dent in the healthcare system, and we’ll be watching every move it makes. Stay tuned…