Walmart: Rolling back prices…on healthcare?

It started with a discount prescription medication program, offering generic drugs to patients for as little as $4 or even for free. It expanded in recent years to include retail clinics in conjunction with local hospital systems and partnerships with leading national hospitals. Now, it could be a tipping point for the future of accessible health care.

“It” is Walmart’s deepening involvement in health care, marked by the opening of five primary-care clinics in Texas and South Carolina – right in the store. They plan to increase the number to approximately 12 by the end of 2014.

At $40 for a walk-in visit (less for employees), Walmart clinics boast a lower price point than most primary-care clinics. In addition, they are open longer: one clinic in Texas, for example, is open for 12 hours on weekdays. The clinics are staffed by nurse practitioners in an agreement with QuadMed.

A number of experts have pointed out the wisdom of Walmart’s primary-care strategy and its consistency with other corporate strategies. The company has opened clinics slowly, after significant planning, and has begun developing clinics in areas that are in the greatest need of affordable health care.

Texas and South Carolina both have cost-related problems with primary care access: neither state approved a Medicaid expansion, leading to a larger uninsured population, while both states have higher percentages of poverty and other adverse contributing factors such as obesity and substance abuse. In these environments, clinics that provide not only easy but low-cost access will likely prove to be competitive with their traditional healthcare counterparts.

The initial incongruity of Walmart’s involvement in healthcare is actually a reflection of a new trend toward retail healthcare, which we touched on briefly in our last post on bidding for medical procedures.

In order to remain competitive as health care and insurance change in the coming years, healthcare vendors must be prepared to adapt and seek out new opportunities for providing care. PRN Funding offers a number of dynamic healthcare factoring options to help you build the working capital to expand your operations. To learn more or complete an application, contact PRN Funding today.

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