Wal-Mart MD: Now Selling Lawn Mowers, Milk & Mammograms

() Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has opened 5 primary care facilities (PCF) in South Carolina and Texas with another 6 more locations in the works before the end of 2014.

Back in 2013, Wal-Mart announced their bid into the “broader healthcare strategy” to create for inclusion, a brand of “full primary care services over the next five to seven years.”

walmart healthcare clinicThese PCFs are targeting residents in rural areas; providing low-cost treatment for acute illnesses.

According to the US Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) “20% of Americans live in areas without adequate access to primary care doctors.”

Deisha Galberth Barnett, spokesperson for Wal-Mart, explained : “We have been in health and wellness for many many years, from our pharmacies to urgent care. We have a strong history in innovating in the health and wellness industry. Rural residents will get access to the treatments for common, often chronic, ailments unlike the traditional retail clinics that provide treatments only for a limited list of ailments like the Flu.”

A visit to a Wal-Mart physician will cost around $40 and come complete with nurses and discounts for employees who are on the company insurance plan.

For employees, visits will cost $4 – begging the question: With Wal-Mart PCFs, do you get what you pay for?

Or perhaps it is the rise in premiums to full-time staff and cuts to health coverage to part-timers that paved the way for Wal-Mart to have a stake in the healthcare provisional industry.

With their workers having the benefits severely cut or reduced, they would be more likely to purchase $4 visits from a Wal-Mart physician because of economic reasons and convenience.

Jennifer LaPerre, official for Wal-Mart commented : “For our associates and dependents on the health plan, you can come and see a provider in the Wal-Mart Care Clinic for $4. Four dollars! That is setting a new retail price in the health care industry.”

Nurses will be provided to the PCFs by a partnership between Wal-Mart and QuadMed.

Wal-Mart also has leases with rural hospital which could alter the landscape of medical care in the future and propel retail clinics into a viable option for the future of medicine.

On the one hand, this scheme could bring more potential customers to Wal-Mart stores to increase sales in their pharmacies; as well as their general retail stores.

On the other hand, the plan will create a pathway for Wal-Mart to attract new customers to their health care insurance options.

Skip Snow, analyst for Forrester Research said : “If they’re rolling it out across the rural stores primarily, they’re actually filling an important gap in the health care ecosystem.”

Conversely, Robert Wergin, president-elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) asserted: “There’s not a role for retail clinics to take care of chronic, ongoing problems like that. It can provide a service, maybe an entryway into a system.”

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