Event to showcase retail giant's array of health, wellness offerings
BENTONVILLE, Ark. — This Saturday, Walmart plans to hold what it calls “America’s biggest health fair.”
The retail giant said Tuesday that it will offer free blood glucose, blood pressure and vision screenings along with product samples and health insurance information at more than 4,400 stores nationwide on Oct. 10. Over 10,000 Walmart pharmacists also will provide immunizations in select stores.
“We expect to set record-breaking numbers during this single day because we will have hundreds of thousands of both screenings and immunizations,” said Michelle Gloeckler, executive vice president of health and wellness and consumables for Walmart U.S. “And because our customer base nears that of the U.S., we believe that during this health fair more than 3,000 Americans will learn that they may have diabetes, and another 7,000 will find out that they have high blood pressure.”
With open enrollment for the federal and state health insurance marketplaces set to begin Oct. 15, Gloeckler said Walmart will again work with DirectHealth.com to help customers identify their health insurance needs, compare coverage options and enroll in plans. The retailer’s open enrollment program, dubbed “Healthcare Begins Here,” will be available Oct. 15, 2015, to Jan. 31, 2016, in more than 2,400 Walmart stores, as well as online and via phone.
“New this year, DirectHealth.com is working with Jackson Hewitt to staff licensed insurance agents in approximately 250 stores,” Gloeckler said. “These agents will help customers navigate the more than 70,000 health exchange plans available to them, as well as help customers over age 65 enroll for Medicare.”
Walmart announced that it also has revamped its health and wellness page on Walmart.com to provide improved access to health-related products, services and information to consumers on the go.
“The site focuses on solutions, such as ‘Boost Your Immunity’ and ‘Live Well with Diabetes,’ while highlighting products across many categories,” Gloeckler said. “Millions of our customers are using the Walmart mobile app to do things like fill prescriptions, and we think they’ll be excited about the new additions to our site.” Products in the “Boost Your Immunity” solution include oral care, probiotics, vitamins and antioxidant foods, while items for the “Live Well with Diabetes” solution include skin care, diabetes supplies and low-carb active nutrition.
Through the health fair and enhanced wellness offerings, Walmart is sharpening its focus on promoting preventive care and supporting its customers’ overall well-being, according to Gloeckler.
“This is a continuation of our commitment to helping our customers live healthier lives,” she explained. “We have a long history of making health care more affordable and accessible. Customer behavior is changing; customers are taking an active role in their personal health, researching things online and, overall, looking for ways to live better. However, some things customers cannot do on their own, such as screenings, immunizations, etc. So with this ‘America’s biggest health fair,’ no appointment will be necessary, and we’re improving the access and affordability to our customers.”
Gloeckler cited Walmart’s popular $4 prescription program, vision centers and Care Clinic health clinics as creating new price positions for retail health services. She noted that Walmart operates its own pharmacies and offers a broad assortment of preventive health care and wellness-oriented products in such categories as grocery, electronics, sporting goods, home apparel and consumables, both in-store and online.
She also cited the retailer’s efforts to make fresh foods more widely available, especially in “food desert” communities, and to reduce the sodium, sugar and trans fat content in the groceries it sells. Last year, Walmart exceeded its goal of opening 275 to 300 stores serving food desert areas — a year ahead of schedule. And currently, the retailer offers more than 1,700 organic products, nearly 10% of which are organic produce items. Through 2014, the company has cut added sodium in the foods sold in its stores by 16% and added sugars by more than 10%. Less than 6% of its products contain industrially produced trans fats.
“We realize that Walmart plays an important role in making health care available to millions of people and helping millions put healthy meals on the table. This is a responsibility we take seriously,” Gloeckler said. “We’re equipping our customers with solutions for total health management, which spans nutrition, fitness, preventative care and treatment.”