Healthcare Everyday Low Prices
If the only problem with the US healthcare system was cost then this injection of competition from Walmart and other retailers might be “just what the doctor ordered”. Unfortunately cost is only a symptom of a much larger, long-term malady… the modern Western lifestyle.
With constant stress, stimuli, poor nutrition from processed “foods” and many other social determinants of health, the modern Western lifestyle will continue to ravage health and Gross Domestic Product. There area products / services that a retailer like Walmart can address such as healthy grocery items; however, this is just the beginning of the transformation necessary for real healthcare.
The retail behemoth, which markets itself as the leader in “Everyday Low Prices,” is beefing up its presence in the health care sector. It inked a deal last month with Anthem, one of the nation’s largest insurers, to entice more Medicare enrollees to buy over-the-counter medications and health supplies at its stores. It recently tapped former Humana executive Sean Slovenski to lead its health and wellness division. And it was reportedly looking to buy PillPack before Amazon purchased the online pharmacy in June.
Walmart (WMT) is one of the latest — and largest — retailers to expand its reach into the fast-growing and lucrative health care arena, which makes up 18% of the nation’s economy and is growing. Amazon is also ramping up its health care offerings, and CVS (CVS) is purchasing Aetna (AET) to expand its services.
Already one of the nation’s leading pharmacies, Walmart could look to provide more low-cost health services, including basic medical care through nurse practitioners, physician assistants or even doctors, experts predict.
Big discounters such as Walmart may also offer primary care, nutrition and weight counseling and chronic disease management, said Sam Glick, a partner in Oliver Wyman’s health and life sciences consulting practice. That’s one of the main advantages physical retailers have over their online competitors.
And Walmart can market its healthy grocery items to certain Medicare Advantage enrollees since the federal government recently allowed insurers to cover such products as a supplemental benefit. This has given the company another advantage over pharmacy chains, which have much more limited food selections.