Analysis: Walmart’s Sam’s Club unveils discount healthcare pilot program
- Several news outlets reported that beginning in October Walmart’s Sam’s Club announced it would begin working with several healthcare companies to offer discounts on maintenance care its customers might delay or skip because of the cost.
- The four bundles of care being offered for Sam’s Club members in Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina will cost from $50 to $240 per year.
- HFMA’s Chad Mulvany says the insight the retailer gleans from the discount healthcare services pilot provides a petri dish for Walmart to better understand utilization and customer preferences, which it can then apply to its health clinic concept.
The Associated Press reported Sept. 26 that “Walmart’s Sam’s Club is teaming up with several health care companies to offer discounts on everyday care its customers might delay or skip because of the cost. Starting early October, Sam’s Club members in Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, will be able to buy one of four bundles of health care services ranging in annual fees from $50 for individuals to $240 for a family of up to six members.”
“The pilot program could potentially be rolled out to members in all the states, says Lori Flees, senior vice president of Sam’s Club Health and Wellness,” according to the AP. “Each bundle offers savings on dental services with a network of providers through the health insurer Humana as well as unlimited telehealth for $1 per visit through a Seattle-based company called 98point6. The bundles also offer discounted vision exams and optical products, and free prescriptions on certain generic medications. The number of free generics range from 5 to 20 of the most popular medications, depending on what the member chooses. For example, the family bundle, at $240 per year includes access to a preventative lab screening that measures health indicators like diabetes, up to a 30% discount on chiropractic, massage therapy and acupuncture services and a 10% discount on hearing aids. Each bundle also offers prepaid health debit cards to be used within the health services network.”
A few takeaways on this one:
- First, and I’m not sure this is exactly what they had in mind, but from a coverage design standpoint, could you package one of the Walmart service bundles for maintenance care with an equivalent of an ACA bronze plan over the top for catastrophic coverage to create a relatively comprehensive insurance benefit? This might be an interesting play to address some of the issues facing the under-insured to provide coverage for lower acuity care for health maintenance.
- Second, it’s interesting, and not surprising, that Humana is involved in this. While there have been rumors of a merger between the two, nothing came of it. This is probably one of the products of those conversations and if it’s successful, may lead to something more significant.
- This provides a petri dish for Walmart to better understand utilization and customer preferences. Whatever Walmart learns here about how patients/members consume services, they will apply to their health clinic concept pilot. Colliding the clinical outcomes to the extent that they can capture that data in this model with customer experience data will allow them to build a stickier model that improves patient outcomes and lowers cost while increasing both in-store and online foot traffic for virtually delivered care — which will increase sales in their core business.