Walmart’s Health Center aims to make healthcare more accessible but the retailer is likely chasing profits over altruism.

WHAT HAPPENED: In mid-September Walmart will pilot two new healthcare clinics in its Georgia and Dallas stores that will offer affordable dental care, mental health counseling and X-ray services. Healthcare clinics currently exist in multiple stores throughout these regions but don’t provide these services. Walmart’s healthcare initiative is as a response to CVS’ “Health Hub”partnership with Aetna that will offer similar services in 1,500 CVS stores by 2021.

WHY IT MATTERS

  • As the largest employer in the U.S. Walmart is positioned to disrupt the highly complex and controversial American healthcare system. With over 5,000 stores nationwide, Walmart has the bandwidth to reach the majority of Americans, especially those in rural areas who are closer to a Walmart store than a local hospital. Walmart also has the scale to partner with healthcare giants on a level that could positively impact the average American’s healthcare needs. Walmart’s is entering the space as massive competitors such as Amazon and direct-to-consumers businesses like Quip and Smile Direct Club continue to grow.
  • Affordable healthcare aligns with Walmart’s “everyday low prices” but conflicts with the retailer’s reputation for poorly treating its workers. Walmart’s Health Center is not only beneficial for people in its surrounding communities, but also for Walmart’s employees. This new initiative could signal Walmart’s increasing focus on reversing poor treatment of its workers or that the Health Center will not live up to the quality of care standards required to properly serve the country.