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Walmart - Health care for $40 or $4?

Missed this news, but this is an interesting development to follow.

Some excerpts

These new clinics are fully owned by the company and branded explicitly as one-stop shops for primary care.
Walmart’s stressed that their clinics will be a low-cost alternative to traditional options: Walk-in visits will cost just $40.
And for the hundreds of thousands of Walmart employees covered by the company health plan, well, it’s even cheaper.

“For our associates and dependents on the health plan, you can come and see a provider in the Wal-Mart Care Clinic for $4. Four dollars!” Jennifer LaPerre, a company official, said last week.

Lisa Bielamowicz, the Advisory Board’s Chief Medical Officer, notes that Walmart’s move keeps with the broader trend of retailers, big-box stores, and other non-traditional competitors charging into health care delivery. And Walmart’s entry into the market could push hospitals and doctors to up their game.

Wal-Mart would be able to keep prices low, in part by staffing clinics with nurse practitioners instead of physicians. Wal-Mart said its nurse practitioners would come from Quadmed, a company that staffs on-site workplace clinics.

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Depending on how many clinics Walmart opens and how many patients come to them, the retailer could help shape low-cost regional networks with its influence of referrals, and even launch a health plan, Bielamowicz said. “You could see how they could evolve this strategy.” A prospect that could be disruptive for insurers and providers alike.

While Wal-Mart won't discuss possible reasons for the enrollment surge, the push for Obamacare enrollment likely played a role, according to Neil Trautwein, a vice president at the National Retail Federation. In states that opted out of Medicaid expansion, Wal-Mart workers may not have been able to get subsidies for health exchange plans. Under the Affordable Care Act, subsidies kick in for those making over $15,900 a year.

Wal-Mart is launching the clinic pilot program in three states that didn't expand Medicaid: Texas, South Carolina and Georgia — states that also have a high concentration of uninsured residents.


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