- Wal-Mart is joining forces with insurance comparison site and health insurance agency DirectHealth.com to unveil counters in thousands of its stores that would allow consumers to talk to licensed agents about plan options. Customers can enroll in a plan on-site, with DirectHealth agents receiving a commission if the customer signs up for a plan in-store.
- The move is an explicit push by Wal-Mart for dominance in the healthcare sphere. "Our goal is to be the number one healthcare provider in the industry," said Wal-Mart health and wellness president Labeed Diab. "And the more we broaden our assortment, the more we broaden our offering, the more we educate the customer Wal-Mart is a great place to create a one-stop shop."
- Called Healthcare Begins Here, the program will roll out in 2,700 of Wal-Mart's 4,311 US stores and run from October 10 to December 7. The dates closely mirror the open enrollment period for Medicare and overlap with the federal exchanges open enrollment period. The company will evaluate the success of the program and determine whether to continue it next year.
Wal-Mart has been increasing its presence in the healthcare sector for years, so this latest foray isn't a surprising move. Hundreds of its stores already operate urgent care clinics and earlier this year, the company moved into primary care delivery, opening six clinics across South Carolina and Texas, with plans to launch six more before January. The clinics, which cost $40 per visit or $4 for company employees covered by its health plan, will be staffed by nurse practitioners in a partnership with QuadMed. Fully owned by Wal-Mart, the new clinics will be open longer and later than urgent and primary care competitors: 12 hours each weekday and 8-plus hours on weekend days.