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home : news : national news free November 12, 2019

10/4/2019 1:34:00 PM
Walmart rolling out health care pilot program, high quality providers, fewer choices

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart is rolling out a health care pilot program for its employees that will come up with a curated list of high quality providers but offer fewer choices than under the current plan.

Through the program, Walmart will help employees connect with local doctors in areas like primary care, cardiology and obstetrics. It is working with Nashville-based data analytics company Embold Health, which will cull through vast amounts of data from public and private insurance plans to come up with recommended providers based on effectiveness and cost-efficiency. Walmart will in turn use that data to curate a list for employees.

“It’s a thoughtful approach to a goal of better health and better health care,“ said Adam Stavisky, senior vice president US benefits, Walmart during a media call on Wednesday.

The program will cover U.S. Walmart and Sam’s Club workers in Orlando and Tampa Florida, the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area and Northwest Arkansas starting Jan. 1. A human personal health care assistant will also be available for workers in North and South Carolina as a go-to resource on billing questions, making an appointment and understanding a diagnosis.

The goal is for the services to eventually be available to the 1 million Walmart and Sam’s Club workers and family members on the company’s health insurance program. The retailer also plans to share its practices with other companies.

The downside of the program is that employees will be faced with fewer doctor choices. Walmart says that workers can use doctors who are not on the company’s curated list but it will cost more.

Walmart executives say it’s hoping to remove a meaningful chunk of unnecessary health care cost for the company and its employees. Overall, employers that provide health coverage have long been frustrated by costs that rise faster than inflation and wages. Benefits experts say other approaches to keep costs down, like raising the deductibles, haven’t worked so companies are focusing more on how people use the health care system.

That can mean offering coverage that steers patients away from expensive hospitals for routine imaging exams or pushes them toward doctors that are considered higher quality. Walmart had already seen positive results.





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