Walmart, UnitedHealth Forge 10-Year Plan for Health Clinics


Walmart, UnitedHealth Forge 10-Year Plan for Health Clinics
A Walmart Health clinic. (Walmart Inc.)

Walmart Inc. of Bentonville continued its push into health care services on Wednesday, announcing a 10-year collaboration with health insurer UnitedHealth Group of Minnetonka, Minnesota, to offer services at its growing chain of Walmart Health clinics.

The project will start next year at 15 Walmart Health clinics in Florida and Georgia, expanding over time, the companies said in a news release. It aims to provide customers with "high-quality, affordable health services that improve health outcomes and improve the patient experience," the companies said.

"We're on a journey to transform health care, connecting more people to the right care at the right time — at a cost that makes sense," Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said. "This collaboration puts the patient at the center of health care by leveraging the strength and complementary skill sets of our two companies to accelerate access to quality care."

The companies said the project ultimately aims to serve "hundreds of thousands of seniors and Medicare beneficiaries in value-based arrangements" through Medicare Advantage plans.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, value-based health care is a delivery model in which physicians and hospitals are paid based on patient outcomes. That differs from the dominant model of U.S health care, fee-for-service, in which providers are paid based on the amount of services they deliver.

"UnitedHealth Group and Walmart share a deep commitment to high-quality and affordable primary care led services that address all of a patient's health needs in ways that are convenient for them and improve health outcomes," UnitedHealth Group CEO Andrew Witty said.

The collaboration will include a co-branded Medicare Advantage plan in Georgia, UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage Walmart Flex (HMO-POS). And Walmart Health Virtual Care will be in network for commercial members in UnitedHealthcare's Choice Plus PPO plan. Both will be available beginning in January, the companies said.

Meanwhile, Optum, a UnitedHealth Group business, will provide Walmart Health with analytics and "decision support tools" to deliver "comprehensive value-based care" for seniors and Medicare beneficiaries. 

Eventually, Walmart and UnitedHealth aim to expand to more locations and serve more customers in commercial and Medicaid plans by providing access to fresh food and "enhancing current initiatives to address social determinants of health, over-the-counter and prescription medications, and dental and vision services."

The partnership will boost Walmart's growing network of health clinics, which provide primary care services, hearing, eye and dental care, lab and x-ray services, counseling services and a discount generic prescription program. Walmart has opened more than 20 clinics in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia and Illinois.

In Florida, Walmart is using Epic health technology, a comprehensive health records system that allows patients to securely access their health information, communicate with their providers, schedule appointments and pay bills on their phone or computer.

Walmart is also looking to serve to a growing customer base. Dr. David Carmouche, senior vice president of Omnichannel Care Offerings at Walmart, said the Florida locations will help address demand for care in the state. Florida's population is growing faster than the national average and, according to Carmouche, there's only one primary care physician per 1,380 residents.

The main selling points for the Walmart Health clinics are upfront pricing for an array of primary care services at one location. Each clinic has subtle differences in size and services offered, but the main focus is the same: primary and urgent care, dental and vision, lab work and counseling services. And the price for each service is listed like a menu at a fast-food restaurant.

Stores are often around 5,800 SF and near Walmart Supercenters. The clinics are staffed by Walmart employees in partnership with local physicians.

Walmart is one of several retailers getting into health care. Last year, Walgreens invested $5.2 billion in VillageMD, a primary-care provider with 200 locations across 15 markets. And earlier this week, CVS said it would acquire in-home health provider Signify Health for $8 billion.


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