Primary Care Plans Put Walmart Back in the Health Care Spotlight

Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) — which reportedly came somewhat close to becoming a home health provider in its own right last year — is diving deeper into the health care sector.

Last week, the retail giant confirmed plans to open up a new health clinic, dubbed Walmart Health, in Georgia. CNBC first reported the news on Thursday.

While exact details aren’t entirely clear, so far it’s known that the company’s new clinic will be staffed with certified nurse practitioners and include primary care, dental services, health care counseling, lab tests, X-rays, wellness checks and management of ongoing conditions. The cost of an appointment will range from $59 to $99, though Walmart accepts a number of health insurance plans, including those from Humana and Aetna, as well as Medicaid GA & SC Plans and Medicare Part B.

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The Dallas, Georgia-based primary care clinic is set to open next month.

“Walmart is committed to making health care more affordable and accessible for customers in the communities we serve,” a company representative told CNBC.

Walmart did not respond to requests for comment from Home Health Care News.

The Walmart Health clinic is yet another example of a major company extending its investment in the home- and community-based care space with an eye toward the aging-in-place market. Roughly one-third of the retailer’s shoppers are above the age of 55, according to research from Kantar Retail.

In general, diving deeper into the health care space — and possibly one day even the in-home care arena — isn’t out of left field for Walmart.

In 2018, there were rumors that the retail behemoth was in talks to acquire Humana (NYSE: HUM), a move that would have made Walmart a de facto home health provider if the deal took place.

In addition to Humana At Home, Louisville, Kentucky-based Humana sends almost 50,000 nurses into the home daily through Kindred at Home, the largest provider of home health and hospice services in the country. Humana acquired an ownership stake in Kindred at Home in 2018.

But Walmart’s new health clinic in Georgia is far from its first foray into the health care world.

In fact, just last year, the company partnered with Anthem (NYSE: ANTM) to allow consumers to enroll in Anthem’s Medicare Advantage plans to use allowances to purchase over-the-counter medicine and health supplies in-store and online at Walmart.

And Walmart is not the only major retail company making moves in the health care space.

CVS, for example, also reportedly has plans to expand its health hub concept store, which will feature medical equipment, supplies and services, to four U.S. metropolitan areas and 50 locations by the end of this year, according to Forbes.

If it does decide to ultimately ramp up its home- and community-based care game, Walmart already has a substantial footprint.

Globally, nearly 265 million customers and Walmart members visit its more than 11,200 stores under 55 banners in 27 countries and e-commerce websites in 10 countries each week.

It certainly has the capital to support any future health care ambitions, too, as Walmart’s fiscal year 2018 revenue checked in at $500.3 billion.

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