The retailer has begun an initiative focusing on preventive care and supporting overall well-being across its entire assortment — in stores and online — through events, education, and an expanded assortment of products and services.
For the second year, Walmart is working with DirectHealth.com to help customers identify their health insurance needs, compare coverage options and enroll in the plan that is right for them. The customer open enrollment program, Healthcare Begins Here, will be offered through January 31 in more than 2,400 Walmart stores, online and by phone.
New this year, DirectHealth.com is working with Jackson Hewitt to staff licensed insurance agents in approximately 250 stores. These agents will help consumers navigate the more than 70,000 health exchange plans, as well as help customers over the age of 65 enroll in Medicare.
The retailer this month staged “America’s Biggest Health Fair” in more than 4,400 stores. The four-hour event included free blood glucose, blood pressure and vision screenings, as well as product samples and health insurance information. In addition, more than 10,000 Walmart pharmacists offered immunizations.
“There is one thing we can’t put a price on, and that’s the health of our customers,” said Michelle Gloeckler, executive vice president of consumables and health and wellness at Walmart U.S. “We realize we play an important role in making health care available to millions and helping millions put healthy meals on the table. This is a responsibility we take seriously. From managing diabetes to running your first 5K and simply putting a healthy dinner on the table, we’re equipping our customers with solutions for total health management which spans from nutrition, fitness, preventative care and treatment.”
Over the past year, Walmart has added thousands of wellness products, and it plans to expand in notable areas such as durable medical equipment, specialty prescriptions and active nutrition.
“We have a long history of making health care more affordable and accessible for our customers,” Gloeckler said. “Our $4 prescription program changed the industry and drove down health care costs. Our Care Clinics and Vision Centers are creating new price positions for retail health services and giving communities expanded access to services they need to live healthier lives.”
Last year, customers saved more than $1.09 billion on fresh fruits and vegetables, and Walmart exceeded its goal of opening 275 to 300 stores serving designated “food desert” areas a year ahead of schedule. Today, Walmart offers more than 1,700 organic products, nearly 10% of which are organic produce items, and brings customers new, healthier options by working with national brands and innovating within its own private label assortment.
In 2011, the discounter set out to reduce the sodium, added sugar and industrially produced trans fats in its private brands, including Great Value, as well as national brands. Through 2014, the company reduced added sodium in the foods sold in its stores by 16%, reduced added sugars by more than 10%, and now less than 6% of its products contain industrially produced trans fats.
To help customers manage their health whenever and wherever they are, Walmart has also revamped its Health & Wellness page on Walmart.com to focus on solutions that highlight products across multiple categories.
“We want to be the destination for health and wellness in the U.S.,” said Gloeckler. “We are not only doing a lot of work to better understand our pharmacy customers but also making sure we’re staying one step ahead of their needs.”
She is particularly intrigued by the potential of the Walmart Care Clinic, a program that, for $40 a visit for customers and $4 for employees, offers wellness and preventive care, primary acute care, management of chronic conditions, basic lab tests, and immunizations.