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Walmart launches standalone health clinic in Georgia

Walmart and Walgreens are among pharmacies in new Clearinghouse Model to eliminate drug price variability and lower costs.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

Walmart is expanding its clinic care footprint by opening a Walmart Health in Dallas, Georgia, in a stand-alone building next to its Walmart store.

Its newest location in Dallas, Georgia, offers primary care, dental, counseling, lab services, X-rays, audiology and more, according to Walmart Health.

It advertises services for $59 to $99 for consumers without insurance, and lists 12 accepted insurance plans, including major insurers Aetna, Humana, UnitedHealthcare, Cigna, Anthem BCBS of Georgia and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas.

"Walmart is committed to making healthcare more affordable and accessible for customers in the communities we serve. The new Walmart Health center in our Dallas, Georgia, store will provide low, transparent pricing for key health services for local customers. We look forward to sharing more details when the facility opens next month," spokeswoman Marilee McInnis said.

Walmart Health lists six locations in Georgia, five in South Carolina and nine in Texas.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Walmart is facing increasing competition from Amazon, Walgreens and CVS Health for its pharmacy, Medicare and Medicaid business.

Traditional providers -- hospitals, physician offices and urgent care clinics -- are up against the retail store convenience of clinics operated by Walmart, CVS and others.

Medicare is a big market due to the aging baby boomer population. Competition for Medicaid business can be seen in Amazon offering Medicaid beneficiaries a discounted Prime membership last year, in a move seen as direct competition to Walmart.

THE LARGER TREND

This July, Walgreens and Humana announced they were expanding their Partners in Primary Care by opening three additional senior health centers inside Walgreens stores in the Kansas City area and in Anderson, South Carolina. The health centers focus on primary care, pharmacy, nutrition, wellness support and other services for Medicare beneficiaries.

In June, CVS Health announced it would add another 1,500 HealthHubs by the end of 2021, for a total of 9,900 locations within three miles of 70% of the U.S. population.

CLEARINGHOUSE PBM MODEL

The latest move towards lower-priced pharmacy drugs was announced this week by Capital Rx, a pharmacy benefit manager.

Walmart and Walgreens are among pharmacies in the PBM's retail network to join the new Clearinghouse Model to eliminate drug price variability, according to Capital Rx. The transparent pricing model promises the same drug prices for all consumers.

Currently, different employer groups pay different drug prices because of existing "spread" opportunities for traditional PBMs, Capital Rx said. Employers never see the PBM's reimbursement to the pharmacy, and the pharmacy never sees the amount billed to the employer, enabling artificial price variability, Capital Rx said.

ON THE RECORD

"Walmart is working with Capital Rx to deliver the lowest prescription prices and enable our customers to live better," said Luke Kleyn, vice president, Walmart Health and Wellness.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com