As reported in the New York Times, Walmart has taken the plunge into the retail primary care healthcare delivery market.  Walmart has opened six primary care locations in South Carolina and Texas and plans to open another six by year end.  These primary care clinics are intended to offer a broader range of services than the approximately one hundred acute care clinics leased by hospital operators at Walmart locations across the country.  Walmart’s strategy is to include and focus on chronic disease management, especially in areas where doctors are scarce such as rural areas.

Walmart is partnering with QuadMed nationally to operate the clinics, rather than with multiple partners as was the case with Walmart’s earlier attempts at operating acute care clinics.  The primary care clinic model will be staffed primarily by nurse practitioners and medical assistants and will be supervised by a physician.

By contrast, Walgreen’s and other pharmacy chains have not yet ventured into more comprehensive primary care, choosing instead to focus on acute care clinic services and health coaching/care coordination initiatives.

Pricing at the Walmart primary care clinics is reported to be $40 per visit. Walmart employees and their dependents will pay only $4 a visit, which may be of interest to Walmart’s 1.1 million employees.  The primary care clinics currently, in addition to cash payments, also accept Medicare but generally do not accept other third party payors.  Medicaid enrollment is under way for some locations.  The article was published August 7, 2014.