You can see a doctor, a dentist and even a mental health therapist.
What if we told you there was a place where uninsured people could stop in for medical checkups and only shell out $30 for the appointment? This may seem at odds with the way our healthcare market is currently shaped—but there is a place where this sort of model exists. And that place is Walmart.
The new offering is called Walmart Health, and it is only available at two locations, at least right now. But Walmart is hoping to expand the clinic concept and some are betting the model will prompt a health revolution in the United States by offering transparent (and low) prices.
Here's what you need to know: Two Walmart locations, both in Georgia (one is located in Dallas, GA; the other in Calhoun, GA), offer medical appointments on either an appointment or drop-in basis. As for pricing, patients pay just $30 for a medical checkup ($20 for kids), while dental cleanings run $25 and mental health therapy sessions go for $1 a minute.
Let's not get this new Walmart Health model confused with the walk-in clinics that already exist at many locations, tucked inside the stores, or similar models at drug store chains. At those kinds of clinics you might see a nurse practitioner or a doctor for a sore throat one time, but the new Walmart Health centers are a full service approach. It's not trying to be a quick stop where you could get a prescription in a pinch, it's trying to deliver primary care.
The two existing locations have separate entrances and employ physicians, dentists and therapists and other health care workers. Patients can access X-rays, lab tests, fitness classes and eye exams in these locations.
While we don't know exactly how these two centers are faring, a Walmart executive tells Bloomberg that volume has exceeded the retailer's expectations.
According to CNN, Walmart chose Dallas and Calhoun as test towns for Walmart Health because the communities don't have as many primary care physicians as other communities do and also have higher rates of chronic disease. Uninsured people can seek out affordable health care at the clinics and the communities are reportedly enjoying the transparency of pricing. Anyone who has experienced that awful thing that happens when you receive a medical bill and have no idea what to expect (often the price is shockingly high) can understand why this transparency is coveted. By laying out pricing in a clear manner, Walmart aims to eliminate this shock.
Ateev Mehrota, an associate professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, told CNN the expanded clinics are "increasing access to care" in these two underserved communities.
Walmart corporate tells Motherly it plans to expand Walmart Health into other communities in Georgia. The next clinic planned is the Loganville, GA location which will open in the summer.
We'll have to wait to see how this all unfolds: We don't know if this model will appear at other Walmart locations or if pricing will remain stable. We don't know what its limitations really look like or how patient care will operate and evolve in the long term, or how accepting citizens will be of health care under the Walmart banner.
"Walmart has struggled historically to be seen as a good citizen," Witold Henisz, professor of management at the Wharton School, told CNBC in 2019, noting criticism of the wages and working conditions at the retail giant.
But Walmart says it's committed to the communities it serves, and when it comes to health care there are many underserved communities that have a Walmart but perhaps not a hospital. A lot remains to be seen as far as Walmart Health goes, but we do know that all parents want to be able to take their child to the doctor when they need one and all communities should have access to health care.