Retail giant is rolling out its virtual care program across the country after a successful test run
Walmart, the nation's largest private employer, is moving to improve health care access for its employees and their families by expanding its virtual primary care services. The move aims to address the challenges associated with traditional health care, including long appointment wait times, referrals between doctors, and the inconvenience of traveling to see specialists.
Building upon its existing telehealth services for occasional sick visits, Walmart is now offering employees the opportunity to establish long-term relationships with quality physicians nationwide through virtual primary care. Additionally, as part of this expansion, virtual care options for digestive health and physical therapy will be made available, including basic at-home lab work starting early next year. Most of these virtual health care benefits come with no cost to employees and their families.
According to the company, the decision to expand virtual primary care comes in response to the growing demand for on-demand access to health care providers, a trend accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also aligns with Walmart's commitment to enhancing mental health benefits, which are available to associates and their families at no cost, regardless of their enrollment in a Walmart medical plan.
In 2019, Walmart identified that nearly 50% of its associates and their family members were not receiving primary care, largely due to limited access. The expansion of virtual primary care aims to bridge this gap by providing convenient and accessible health care services when and where they are needed.
The virtual primary care pilot was initially launched in three states in 2020 and expanded to 16 states after demonstrating success. In 2023, it has further expanded to cover 21 states, making quality health care more accessible to Walmart associates and their families.
Key findings from the pilot program include:
Owen Tripp, CEO of Included Health, Walmart's health care partner for the virtual primary care expansion, stated: "Over the past three and a half years, Walmart has tested and validated the role of virtual care beyond simple sick needs. Against national primary care shortages, rural health care deserts, and persistent price growth, Walmart has continued to move health care forward."
The expansion covers the following states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming. Virtual primary care services are already available in all other states, except Hawaii.