Walmart Moves Health Care Forward Again

Brian Klepper

Posted 10/12/12 on Medscape Connect’s Care & Cost Blog

Walmart. Save Money. Live Better.Walmart’s sheer size makes almost any of their initiatives newsworthy. That said, despite being a lightning rod for criticism on employee benefits and health care, they have introduced initiatives with far-reaching impacts. Their generic drug program began in September 2006 – more than 300 prescription drugs for $4/month or $10 for a 90-day supply – and was widely emulated, disrupting retail drug markets and generating immense social benefit. Imagine the difference it made to a lower middle class diabetic who had been paying more than $120 per month for medications, and suddenly could get them for about $24.

Yesterday Walmart announced that “enrolled associates” – covered workers and their family members – needing heart, spine or transplant surgeries could receive care with no out-of-pocket cost at 6 prominent health systems around the country: Mayo Clinics (Rochester, MN and Jacksonville, FL); Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland, OH); Geisinger Clinic (Danville, PA); Mercy Hospital Springfield (Springfield, MO); Scott & White Memorial Hospital (Temple, TX); and Virginia Mason Medical Center (Seattle, WA).

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Lowe’s Cardiac Surgery Deal with Cleveland Clinic

I’m currently trying to highlight innovative arrangements between employers and health care organizations that reduce cost, make use of Centers of Excellence, and generally move health care in a better direction.

In early 2010, Lowes cut a deal with Cleveland Clinic for cardiac surgeries. Lowes pays a bundled rate that is lower than it would otherwise be. Employees or family members who need the surgery and choose Cleveland Clinic have their $500 co-pay waived – in other words, the surgery at Cleveland is “free” – and their airfare and local expenses in Cleveland are covered.

So far the program has been a success for Lowes, saving money and boosting employee morale. Cleveland Clinic obviously shines as well.

See the Lowes promo below.