Considering the fact that the United States is known for its issues with healthcare, it’s no wonder that major companies like Walmart and Groupon are cashing in where they can. Walmart announced recently that it would be taking a leap into the healthcare industry further than it ever has before with its first primary care facility. The primary care center, called Walmart Health, is the retailers first official foray into the healthcare world beyond the pharmaceutical side of the industry, where it’s been a part of for quite some time now. Meanwhile Groupon, an internet retailer that connects and sells consumers coupon deals at various businesses, has been selling healthcare services like medical scans and ultrasounds as part of a coupon deal on its website.
While both ventures into the medical industry come with seemingly good intentions, the move indicates that the American healthcare system’s integration with capitalism has no plans to slow down anytime soon. Walmart is opening a prototype primary care clinic in Georgia this month to gauge whether or not the business model would be successful. The company aims to provide consumers with primary care services, dental, and lab testing at more affordable rates, potentially competing with other major healthcare providers in the Georgia area. Should the model be successful, Walmart could expand the service to other parts of the United States.
Walmart is not the only major retailer to venture into primary care services. CVS, a nationwide pharmacy, has also been expanding its healthcare services in recent years to offer more primary care services. Its HealthHub concept aims to help consumers with chronic conditions get better healthcare at a lower price without having to seek the service of a more expensive primary care alternative. Many are looking at Walmart’s foray into the world of primary care as being in direct competition with the CVS model, which first launched in Houston.
Groupon’s Healthcare Services
Groupon, however, took a different approach to healthcare as its business model differs greatly from that of CVS and Walmart. The online only company, which sells coupons to consumers for goods and services ranging from floral services or even skydiving adventures. For healthcare, the company offers its own set of incentives under the “buy one get one” model. Groupon customers can shop from a variety of healthcare services that range from massage and spa services to ultrasounds sold as “fetal memories.” It is not uncommon for Groupon users to find deals on things like chiropractic visits and eye exams, but the company is also starting to provide benefits and coupons for basic dentistry and prescriptions (see this Groupon for Viagra, sold for 52% off its retail price).
What this indicates is that the healthcare industry is, perhaps, at an all time low in the United States. Many Americans can’t afford health insurance that will cover basic primary care visits. This left a space open for retailers like Walmart CVS to hone in and offer the services that most can’t afford out of pocket. While services from Walmart, CVS, and Groupon offer affordable healthcare services for many Americans, the solution is a temporary fix to a much larger problem that seems to have no foreseeable solution on the horizon.