Wal-Mart’s new everyday low price: A $40 doctor visit


#1

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. pushed down prices for some generic prescription drugs to just $4 eight years ago, setting a new industry standard. Now it is trying to do the same for seeing a doctor.

*On Friday, a Walmart Care Clinic opened in Dalton, Ga., six months after Walmart U.S., the retailer’s WMT, +0.22% biggest unit, entered the business of providing primary health care. It now operates a dozen clinics in rural Texas, South Carolina and Georgia and has increased its target for openings this year to 17. *

marketwatch.com/story/wal-marts-new-everyday-low-price-a-40-doctor-visit-2014-10-17?mod=mw_share_facebook&n_play=5449284fe4b08ba200692521

Like their entering the grocery market reduced the cost of groceries overall this will bring down the cost of medical care.


#2

Likely these clinics will deal only with very basic care or maintenance-type care. One suspects they will be largely staffed by NPs. Truth be told, most basic and maintenance type care would be well enough served this way.

If it, or NPs being able to have their own practices becomes widespread, it’s going to be hard on family practice physicians who are mostly practicing on the very same level. Any more, the latter are doing NP level practice.

As healthcare becomes more and more distorted and removed from any kind of market forces, it’s difficult not to welcome such things as this. As clinics more and more depend on computer programs for “evidence based medicine”, the “art” of medicine is rapidly disappearing anyway.


#3

Very interesting! If anyone has the clout necessary to drive down prices in health care, it is Walmart.


#4

I how be interested to see how much Walmart is utilized for such a service.
Mary.


#5

Right. If they have their greeters taking people’s blood pressure, I’d be inclined to pass. :stuck_out_tongue:


#6

Indeed I don’t see this as a bad thing, Walgreen’s has been doing similar things over the last few years. One of the biggest issues in our health care system has been the lack of preventative care. So I see little chance this won’t help.


#7

Is that cheap?


#8

They have had eye care for years, but that hasn’t brought the cost down any. It does, however, serve a section of the population that can’t afford higher cost services.


#9

:rotfl:


#10

Yes! The other similar type places around here charge $60-75/visit and a regular doctor around $100+/visit.


#11

:eek::bigyikes::eek:


#12

Around here, it would be $80-$100 for a visit that usually wouldn’t be as long as 15 minutes. That, then, is around $320-$400/hour. For most things, you’ll see an NP, not a physician. The NP makes about $30/hour, or about $7.50 for the usual length of the visit.

Walmart could make routine medical a LOT cheaper than it is. There’s plenty of fat that could be cut, and a profit could still be made.

Pre-Obamacare, “catastrophic care” policies were massively less expensive than standard policies. The difference was that people used standard policies all the time instead of paying for routine care themselves. In a lot of cases, that was not economically necessary for the individual, just preferable. People were generally unaware that they were paying for it in one way, just not in another.

The oligopolies that now run hospitals and clinics hugely inflate charges for a number of reasons. One is the “free” care they’re obliged to give to people with no insurance. Another is greed and gold-plating. Another is expansionism. Another is that the whole “discount” systems for Medicare and Medicaid are fraudulent.

Now that Obamacare supposedly (and I do mean supposedly) has everybody covered, then the grotesque overcharging is no longer justified at all, theoretically. But the big complexes will keep doing it.

They need serious competition.


#13

Walmart is good at cutting the fat and making a profit.

The pricing has always struck me as one of the things most in need of some temperance. I’m always astonished by my explanation of benefits forms which shows the price the doctor/hospital charges versus the price my insurance company negotiates. The difference is often huge.


#14

Sounds better than Obamacare!


#15

It’s huge because the “reasonable and customary” charges are totally bogus, and everybody knows it. They’re inflated in order for the providers and the government to pretend that Medicare is provided at a discount when it isn’t.

Insurance companies know that and negotiate for the real (though often still inflated) charges. There was a time in my life when i negotiated for a self-insurer and I ALWAYS started the negotiations at a discount to what Medicare was paying.


#16

I live in a mediumish size town in South Carolina which, while I wouldn’t say is poor, nevertheless has a sizeable poor population and a lot of people on welfare.

We have one of the new clinics.

My estimation is that it will prove extremely popular. I am certain of it.


#17

Rofl that is an absolutely positively atrocious amount of money to make as a NP. I say that as a citizen of South Carolina of all places… A graduate degree gets you thirty dollars an hour? That is what an average RN makes here two or three years into practice. Tbh I am in nursing school right now, I will graduate next summer. I have long thought about options for the future. Honestly it looks like an open buffet for me as far as what I want to do. MD, PA, NP, whatever, they’re fundamentally not the same, I don’t believe that propaganda we sometimes hear. However, what matters to me is not the amount of money or whether I can work in an independent practice, but rather work-life balance. Money comes in a nice second place. But I can say that if I were in a market situation where NPs were making $30/hour I wouldn’t think twice about quickly scratching it off my list. I would never go to school for an extra two to potentially four years for that.


#18

They say give the devil his due - well this move has the potential to significantly reduce the financial burden of health care for employed people who either do not have insurance or can’t afford to use it. :thumbsup::thumbsup:

Yeah for price transparency. Now, let’s see the market work…and the complaints begin.


#19

Ouch

Walmart could make routine medical a LOT cheaper than it is. There’s plenty of fat that could be cut, and a profit could still be made.

Pre-Obamacare, “catastrophic care” policies were massively less expensive than standard policies. The difference was that people used standard policies all the time instead of paying for routine care themselves. In a lot of cases, that was not economically necessary for the individual, just preferable. People were generally unaware that they were paying for it in one way, just not in another.

The oligopolies that now run hospitals and clinics hugely inflate charges for a number of reasons. One is the “free” care they’re obliged to give to people with no insurance. Another is greed and gold-plating. Another is expansionism. Another is that the whole “discount” systems for Medicare and Medicaid are fraudulent.

Now that Obamacare supposedly (and I do mean supposedly) has everybody covered, then the grotesque overcharging is no longer justified at all, theoretically. But the big complexes will keep doing it.

They need serious competition.

I think Obamacare would have been better if it would have stuck to mandating catastrophic care/hospital care and left the rest up to individuals and the market. Government intervention just has the horrible effect of delaying market corrections that are sorely needed.

Walmart has been very good at providing low cost medical supplies. I know quite a few diabetics who rely on them for cheap testing supplies. Apparently insurance is stingy in that area. I hope that these new clinics will encourage people without insurance or those with high deductibles to seek care before they end up with major high-cost issues.


#20

There are a number of drug stores in my area that have NPs and they seem to enjoy a following. I usually get my flu shot there. They can be used for minor things like ear aches and sore throats, etc. Anything more than that, one probably should see a physician. But I do think they serve a purpose for many folks who cannot afford to go to a doctor of every little thing.


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