Is Walmart the Future of Wellness? Health Care & Retail Are Set to Collide

From Observer, By Arick Wierson

Despite encroaching competition from CVS, Amazon and even Alibaba, Walmart still holds the title as the world’s largest retailer, and with that distinction comes several mind-boggling statistics. One that caught my attention recently is astounding: approximately 140 million Americans visit a Walmart Store each week.

That’s a lot of people. 

Stated another way, more than one out every three Americans step inside one of Walmart’s 4,000-odd stores on a weekly basis.

With market share like that, and a staggeringly extensive physical presence, it may seem unsurprising that the company has been gearing up to carve off an increasingly thicker slice of the $3.3 trillion that the U.S. spends on health care each year. 

It was only a few years ago that Walmart announced its plans to be the “Number One Health Care Provider in the Industry.” At the time, the statement seemed a bit audacious, and even perplexing, to the average outsider, but both leaders in the health and retail industries now view the eventual fusion between their sectors as an all but foregone conclusion. The big question is not if such a convergence will take place, but how exactly it will all unfold.

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When Retail Giants Like Walmart and Amazon Invade Healthcare

From HealthLeaders:

Steven Porter writes in HealthLeaders that “healthcare executives and industry analysts alike say greeting these (Walmart and Amazon) disruptors with blanket resistance would be counterproductive, largely because hospitals and health systems seem to need what these retailers have to offer.

“I think that there’s a real opportunity for a place like Walmart to start building healthcare delivery in lower-acuity settings that move beyond the kind of clinics inside the stores where you’re basically doing flu shots … and relatively simple, straightforward stuff,” Matthews says. “I think you could start moving to more of an urgent care model, where you start dealing with patients that have somewhat more complex but still basically primary care needs.”

“These new entries into the market, quite frankly, are forcing us to either change and to become much more consumer-savvy or—at least in my professional opinion—many of us will not survive,” says Donald H. Lloyd II, president and CEO of CHRISTUS St. Patrick Health System, based in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and licensed for 277 beds.

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Views: Is reference-based pricing driving the recent spate of healthcare acquisitions?

Employee Benefit Advisor

Is ubiquitous ‘in-network’ health plan model on the way out? As more employers drop their fully-insured health plans in favor of self-funding and reference-based pricing strategies that could be the case.

The insurance network has long been the cornerstone of many insurance carriers’ value propositions. But reference-based pricing plans do not make use of network contracts, and many self-funded plans see less value in obtaining these agreements.

Without a network to fall back on, the country’s leading health insurers will be on more level footing with third-party administrators for self-insured and reference-based pricing plans. That has prompted some carriers to take steps to diversify their service lines, leading them to acquire physician networks and other healthcare providers.

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