Is Walmart Going to Become a Health Care Provider?

walmart Walmart might be planning on a partnership with outside healthcare companies. This would allow them to treat and manage serious medical conditions in it’s 140 in-store clinics. This could provide more options for people who lack health insurance.

Is Walmart really going to expand what their in-store clinics can offer? There is some debate about this idea. On the one hand, there was an NPR report that mentioned a confidential document that Walmart sent out to healthcare vendors. That document described some of Walmart’s plans to create a low-cost primary care healthcare platform.

On the other hand, Walmart has made statements that are an attempt to downplay the significance of the document. The company says that the document was nothing more than a “preliminary move” that it was using to test out how feasible it would be to make such a change.

In other words, right now discussion about what might happen if Walmart does expand what it can offer at its in-store clinics is mostly speculation. There has been news about the potential of insurance exchange kiosks appearing in grocery stores. Some Walmart stores already have a clinic inside them. There is a lot of potential here.

If Walmart does enhance its clinics, this could open up options for people who don’t have health insurance. It also could be beneficial for people who have high deductible health insurance, or who cannot afford, at that moment, to pay the co-pay that would be required if they went to see their regular doctor.

Let’s say your child gets sick, and is running a fever. You could call your pediatrician’s office, and hope that they could give your child an appointment. What if they can’t? Then, you might try taking your child to an emergency room, (and end up paying a huge medical bill). Or, you could try taking your sick kid to a walk-in clinic, which might end up costing you $300.00.

The Walmart clinic might only cost you $75.00. It is easy to get to a Walmart, especially if you were planning on shopping there anyway. Your chances of getting your child seen by a doctor at the Walmart clinic is pretty good. Perhaps this could work out well for Americans. There are some places in the United States where there are no doctor’s offices. Many of those places probably do have a Walmart, however.

The Walmart clinic would not require a person to be covered by health insurance in order to receive treatment or health care. There are many families who cannot afford to buy health insurance right now. If Walmart starts having an in-store primary clinic, I wonder if other retailers that offer health care (like Sears, for example), would do the same thing.

Image by Chanel Beck on Flickr