National Journal: Wal-Mart Thinking Outside the Box on Health Care

Here's an interesting, relatively quick read from the National Journal on one way Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville is trying to combat high health care costs. In short, the retailer is sending a small number of employees with complicated, expensive health problems to some of the best hospitals in the world, all expenses paid:

The model, sometimes called “centers of excellence” or “travel surgery,” has caught on among a few large corporations and their employees. Unlike in retail stores, where the cheapest item is probably the shoddiest, this program is premised on the idea that cheaper health care is to be found at the nation’s very best providers. “We come at it from the perspective of how can we improve quality,” said Sally Welborn, Wal-Mart’s senior vice president of global benefits. “When we improve quality, often there will be a reduction in waste or unintended or unnecessary cost.”

The full National Journal article is available here.