What can’t you get at Walmart?

Apparently nothing. The retail giant has begun opening retail medical clinics in major metropolitan areas with the expectation that more Americans are going to need access to primary care services.

The retailers see 10,000 baby boomers aging into Medicare coverage each day

Walmart’s First Healthcare Super Center Opens

To their credit they do offer a more transparent pricing scheme for services with an asterisk disclaimer stating that the final price of services is dependent on what services are rendered. Certainly the list of labs prices I’ve seen offers standard labs at 4-5x their wholesale price. These are labs we offer free in our practice, by the way.

Additionally, they limit their services to patients older than 18 months of age. That’s pretty typical of retail clinics. I’m sorry/not-sorry for my sarcasm, but retail clinics want to help but only if it’s easy. They aren’t there to actually develop a long term relationship with a patient who needs care over the various seasons of their life. Retail clinics are the definition of vending machine medicine.

Given what I’ve personally experienced trying to get routine medications filled at Walmart, I’m not excited about the prospect of my mother having to get her Medicare annual wellness exams done there. For the sake of all those patients who need a skilled physician to walk with them through the difficult moments of their lives, I hope my pessimism is proven wrong.

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