Last week, Walmart opened its first standalone health clinic in Georgia, but it probably won’t be its last. It’s an ambitious project for the company that is already one of the leading health care retailers in the world, and it builds upon their “care clinic” idea, which they’ve launched around Georgia, South Carolina (my state), and Texas.
The idea is to put a lot of different kinds of services under one roof — which, like duh, is what Walmart does with consumer goods. Here’s all that they want to offer in their standalone health clinics, according to a Forbes article:
The larger Walmart Health Center puts “key health services under one roof,” a first for the world’s largest retailer when it comes to offering primary care, dental, optometry, counseling, laboratory tests, X-rays, hearing, wellness education and behavioral health.-Forbes
But wait, there’s more! In true Walmart fashion, they’ve already published a price list. That’s a no-brainer for retail but revolutionary for health services. Seriously, when was the last time you went to a doctor knowing what you would pay for anything but the visit itself?
As someone who’s conscious about your expenses, this is really good news. As Walmart expands into other cities, they will bring affordable yet high-quality (more on that in a moment) services to you. But, lest this just sound like an ad for Walmart, it will also be good for you if you don’t want to go to Walmart because it will give you a comparison that you can reference when you call around to other places for services.
And now, I’ll speak from personal experience: I live close to one of Walmart’s “care centers,” which focuses just on optometry for now. I have finally gotten to the age of needing glasses and thought that, rather than just rely on cheap readers, I should make sure there’s nothing else going on with my vision. I was going to go to Costco but a friend (who is a medical professional herself) recommended Walmart after she had gone there on a Saturday when all of the other eye doctors, including Costco, were closed. She said it was as good as any eye exam she’d gotten at a “real” optometrist’s office and that she wasn’t pressured to buy glasses inside Walmart — just a great, cheap exam and then she was sent on her way with a prescription and options for getting it filled.
On her rec, I made my own appointment and had the same positive experience. I paid $45 plus tax for my eye exam, was able to make a same-day appointment, and was sent on my way with a recommendation to just keep buying $3 readers. 🤓
If that kind of service and transparency continues, Walmart could become a great low-cost but high-quality (read: optimum value) option for FI folks and anyone else looking to save money and avoid the frustration of the non-transparent current way of doing things.
It’s a bit early but something to keep an eye on to help save your money without forgoing health treatment you might need. (But don’t think of it as an alternative to actually buying insurance, because you still need that stuff!