American Zen

Going to Walmart for Tube Socks and Healthcare

If you have any doubt about how fast healthcare is changing, consider this: Walmart plans to be the number one healthcare provider in the industry. Earlier this year, Walmart opened a half-dozen of their own convenient care clinics in Texas and South Carolina stores. Six more are on their way to opening before the end of the year.

And this week, Walmart announced a partnership with to sign people up for health insurance in 2,700 of their retail locations beginning this week. It’s a two-month program that will span both the Medicare open enrollment period and open enrollment under Obamacare.

This program mirrors what Walmart did with their convenient care clinics. For several years, they leased space for convenient care clinics to local health systems. This allowed Walmart to study the market for convenient care clinics in more than 100 store locations with limited risk. So now they are opening their own clinics with a well-developed plan to put themselves on top of the convenient care industry. And they are laying the groundwork to be a leading source for buying into a health plan.

The convenient care industry is little more than a decade old. In that short period of time, the industry has grown to more than 1,800 clinics across the nation. The number will reach 2,700 by 2016. With more than 4,300 locations in every corner of the U.S. and 150 million visitors every week, you can bet that Walmart will disrupt the order of things in the delivery of medical care services. Under Obamacare, increased demand paired with a shortage of providers for primary care has created the perfect conditions for such change. And Walmart can be counted on to bring cost efficiencies that will shake the things up.

So don’t laugh at the thought that you’ll be getting both your tube socks and help for your sore throat at Walmart soon. You might actually like it that way.

“The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.” — Charles Kettering

Click here to read more from Forbes, here to read more from the Washington Post, and here to read more from Pharmacy Times.

American Zen, photograph © el Neato / flickr

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