Friday, August 24, 2012

Further to WalMart's Plan to Be the Largest Health Care Provider in the U.S. (WMT)

When I first mentioned that Walmart's stock chart looked like the stock could go ten-fold in ten years I also said I had know idea what kind of corporate development would justiify a $2.5 Trillion market cap.
This may be part of the answer.
From Drug Store News:
Walmart takes a shot at expanding healthcare access
The nation’s largest retailer is expanding an in-store healthcare initiative involving 10 types of immunizations administered at its stores through Nov. 15.

Walmart said it is working with Mollen Immunization Clinics to provide 10 of the immunizations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at 2,700 stores. In addition, the company said flu and pneumonia vaccines would be available at all 3,800 stores with pharmacies.

Walmart said it is the first national retailer to use registered nurses to administer in-store vaccinations across all store locations and will also provide free blood pressure screenings at immunization events held on September 8, 15, 22 and 29....MORE
This follows the November story "Wal-Mart's Entrance Into Health Care Is Great News for American Consumers" broken by NPR and relayed by Forbes:
Earlier this month, Wal-Mart dropped a bombshell on the health care industry. A memo from the retail giant obtained by National Public Radio revealed that the company would seek partners to help it “dramatically . . . lower the cost of health care . . . by becoming the largest provider of primary health care services in the nation.”...MUCH MORE
WMT immediately denied the NPR story.
From ABC's Medical Unit:
Attention Walmart Patients… Healthcare in Aisle 4?
Walmart has been working under the radar (not anymore) to be the “largest provider of primary healthcare services in the nation,” according to a request for healthcare partners leaked online today by NPR.
The 14-page request details the superstore’s mission to “expand access to high quality health services” and “dramatically lower the cost of healthcare.”

The plan would see primary care clinics popping up throughout the Walmart’s 3,500-store empire just in time for health care reform, which will mean millions more insured customers.

But before you start looking up your Walmart doctor, the retail giant is denying the claims.
“The RFI statement of intent is overwritten and incorrect. We are not building a national, integrated, low-cost primary care health care platform,” Dr. John Agwunobi, senior vice president and president of Walmart U.S. Health & Wellness told in a statement.

Walmart spokespeople would not expand on whether the chain is attempting to increase its healthcare services in other ways. Walmart is already home to 140 primary care clinics — far fewer than CVS’ 550 and Walgreens’ 355.

“There are a lot of flowers trying to bloom in addressing nation’s shortage of primary care,” said Robert Field, professor of law, health management and policy at Drexel University. “Some are more spontaneous and they tend to be focused in the private sector. A lot of private companies have noticed the gap and have tried to come up with ways to attack it.”

Health care is the only large sector of the American economy that is growing at a consistent high rate, year after year, noted Dr. Mark Fendrick, professor of internal medicine and health management policy at University of Michigan. Coupled with a large influx of newly insured patients expected after the Affordable Care Act comes into play in 2014, retail stores like Walmart may be the only place patients can go since primary care is so overstretched in the U.S. already....MORE
The NPR copy of the RFI sure looks authentic.
Here's yesterday's Wall Street Journal coverage:
Wal-Mart's New Health Push 
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. WMT -0.29% will start offering vaccinations for infectious diseases beyond influenza and pneumonia at 2,700 U.S. stores on Monday as the retailer continues edging into health-care services.
The Bentonville, Ark., chain will offer 10 immunizations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including shots for shingles, meningitis, hepatitis and the human papillomavirus or HPV, which can lead to cervical cancers.

The vaccinations will be available via pop-up kiosks at the front of Wal-Mart stores, under a contract with Mollen Immunization Clinics, which manages a registered-nurse network out of Scottsdale, Ariz., and has been administering flu shots for Wal-Mart over the past few years.

The expansion comes as Wal-Mart is trying to broaden its market share in the multibillion-dollar health-care business as it searches for new avenues for growth. The retailer successfully launched a Medicare prescription drug plan with hospital operator Humana Inc. HUM +0.49% in 2010, and scored a big hit in 2006 with a $4 generic-drug program.

The moves have boosted Wal-Mart's health-and-wellness business segment that includes pharmacy services and over-the-counter drugs and which accounted for 11% of the company's $264.2 billion in U.S. sales last fiscal year....MORE