BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart provided free health screenings, education, services and products at more than 4,600 of its stores across the United States as part of Walmart Wellness Day, an event the company billed as the largest single-day health event in the nation.
Walmart said it was expecting to provide free health screening for hundreds of thousands of people and that, for some, the October 15 screenings would represent the first time in their lives that they took an active role in their health care.
Additionally, attendees could receive help in identifying their health insurance needs, comparing coverage options and enrolling in a plan that is right for them, Walmart said.
The company’s open enrollment program for Medicare and Affordable Care Act plans — Healthcare Begins Here — is available to customers through January 31 at more than 2,300 Walmart stores, online and via phone. Walmart for the past three years has been working with DirectHealth.com to offer customers guidance on Medicare and ACA insurance.
Like last year (when the event was called America’s Biggest Health Fair), Walmart Wellness Day offered free blood glucose, blood pressure and vision screenings (where available), as well as free product samples. More than 10,000 of the company’s licensed pharmacists were on hand in all Walmart pharmacies in the United States to offer immunizations.
Last year’s event generated more than 280,000 screenings for blood pressure, glucose and vision, Walmart said, and nearly 52,000 immunizations were administered. As a result of last year’s event, nearly 3,000 people were advised to visit their health care professional based on their blood glucose screening results. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.7 million Americans each year are diagnosed with diabetes.
Walmart has conducted thousands of health screenings over the past several years, some of which may have had lifesaving results, according to the company, which noted that a Walmart pharmacy manager in Everett, Pa., reported last year that one patient’s readings during the wellness event “were so alarming that she went immediately to the emergency room, where she was treated for a hypertensive emergency. Her family, her doctors and the patient were all extremely grateful for Walmart’s clinical intervention. It was truly gratifying to see how we can really make a difference in patients’ lives every day.”
Walmart noted that the free screenings and educational resources can help customers cope with the high cost of health care.
“The cost of health care in America has risen to more than $3 trillion, but the health of our customers is something we can’t put a price on,” said George Riedl, senior vice president and president of health and wellness at Walmart U.S. “As more than 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store, we’re committed and uniquely positioned to providing accessible and affordable health care that helps busy families live better. Walmart Wellness Day is at the center of that commitment. These screenings provide customers with a basic yet vital understanding of their general health conditions and ways to improve it.”
In bringing people into stores for free screenings, Walmart health events give customers a chance to learn more about Walmart’s extensive health offerings. “Our commitment to this doesn’t end in our health and wellness area,” Riedl said. “We have many of the products customers need to start or continue their journey to a healthy lifestyle, such as fresh produce, apparel, exercise equipment and wearable technology.”
Walmart said it is unique among U.S. retailers in that it operates its own pharmacies, vision centers and care clinics, while also providing a comprehensive assortment of preventative and wellness products in the categories of grocery, electronics, sporting goods, home, apparel and consumables.
During Walmart Wellness Day, representatives from companies such as GoJo Industries Inc., Pfizer Inc., US Nutrition, GlaxoSmithKline PLC, Johnson & Johnson, Clorox Co., Dannon, Kellogg Co. and Mars Inc. were in Walmart stores providing customers with free samples of their products. More than 2 million free samples of healthier food products were distributed to customers at the previous year’s health fair, Walmart noted.