Retail giant Walmart Inc. (WMT) on Thursday said that it would be piloting new healthcare programs in the US. The program will start from January 1 for its employees and will aim to cut their healthcare costs. This is the second biggest expense for the retailer after wages.
What is the new program all about?
The new healthcare program will connect local doctors and patients to ensure that the workers don’t have to spend time on social media or depend on word of mouth to find a doctor. These programs will be held in Texas, Florida, and Arkansas but will be limited only to some parts of these states. Currently, Walmart is the largest private-sector employer in the US and has a workforce of 1.4 million.
It also has some plans for other states. For instance, it will be testing a concierge service in North and South Carolina. It will help in fixing appointments with healthcare providers, understand the doctor’s diagnosis and also support billing. The service could also be used to find the provider to employees.
In the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Colorado, the company wants to expand a program that allows users to consult with doctors via video chat. The service costs $4 per chat.
Walmart multi-pronged plan
The company is not just making healthcare more easily accessible to its employees but also bringing new policies that could handle their well-being more efficiently. Its most popular healthcare plan, which is available to all employees in the US, will now come with a $35 co-pay for each visit to a primary care doctor. It will also allow employees access to fitness clubs. It will come with a $9, and the payment system will be bi-weekly.
It is also planning a larger presence in the health and wellness industry, which is a fast-growing sector that could open new opportunities for the company. It already has over 5,000 retail pharmacies and has recently started expanding on its educational program. The company offers healthcare degrees under this program and help staff up its pharmacies.
The company also signed a deal with insurance service provider Anthem Inc. to bring more Medicare patients to Walmart pharmacies. The company wants more Medicare enrollees to buy their supplies and over-the-counter medications from its own pharmacies. Note that the company provides low-cost generic drugs to the patients which makes them more affordable. A Georgia-based facility of the company has already started providing mental health counseling, X-rays and dental care to patients.