The price of seeing a doctor in the United States varies considerably. A standard office visit for a minor problem normally averages out at $68, whilst more complex issues that demand longer visits can cost the patient over $200.
This is an established system and one that most Americans are used to. However, Walmart is set to disrupt the way Americans see their doctors in much the same way as they did with prescription drugs nearly a decade ago.
In 2006, the American chain began selling generic prescription drugs over the counter in their stores for as little as $4 , far below the price offered by private insurers. Since then, the program has set a new industry standard and lowered the cost of prescription medicine.
Walmart now has a dozen clinics operating in Texas, South Carolina and Georgia, areas in America often blighted with chronic disease and a lack of insurance. The clinic will offer doctor visits for as little as $40, well below the industry average stated at the beginning of this article.
It's been reported that 40% of the visitors who have come to the clinics do not have primary care. The popularity of Walmart's program highlights the shortcomings of private insurers in certain parts of America and shows that Walmart's initiative can have a positive effect on both patients and the healthcare industry as a whole.
Walmart's plan is one that has the potential to the disrupt the healthcare industry, but at the same time, it won't be applicable for everyone. Currently, the program only accepts Medicare and Medicaid for patients in South Carolina, Georgia and Texas.
Despite a target of 17 hospitals being set by Walmart for the end of the year, the scope of the venture will have to be increased if it's to truly disrupt the healthcare industry. It does however demonstrate that the healthcare market is developing in a way that most patients will be happy about.