In Calhoun, Georgia, a city of around 16,000 residents 70 miles outside of Atlanta, Walmart is testing out a new health center. If successful, Walmart may expand its initiative across the United States, potentially upending the way millions of Americans receive medical care.
At “Walmart Health,” which has a separate entrance next door to a massive Walmart supercenter, patients can see doctors for routine checkups and ongoing treatment of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease, even if they lack health insurance. They can also get lab work, x-rays, dental care, behavioral health counseling, eye and hearing exams, and access other services. The bill for an annual checkup for an adult is $30 without insurance, an eye exam is $45 and dental exams cost $25. Therapy sessions are $60.
Walmart believes it can fill that gap for its customers without health insurance, as well as those who have insurance plans with high deductibles and out-of-pocket costs
Walmart wants its doctors to replace patients’ current primary care providers, which will bring them into the clinics more routinely. That’s a different approach from CVS’ Minute Clinics and many urgent care facilities, which offer basic treatment for the occasional strep throat or ear infection.
Walmart has pharmacies and optical departments in thousands of stores and has operated health clinics with limited services in Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas for several years. The company posted annual revenue of $35.7 billion last year from its pharmacies, optical services and sales of over-the-counter drugs and other medical products.
Walmart’s Osborne argues that the company’s facilities will able to operate in a “much stronger way financially” by offering a broad range of services and simultaneously eliminating administrative expenses from a bloated health care system.