Retail giants Amazon and Walmart are launching their own private healthcare programs exclusive to employees and the families of employees. Walmart and Amazon healthcare are great ways for the two companies to cut healthcare costs, but it could also be a way for the retail giants to take advantage of a piece of the $130 billion healthcare pie and eventually sell healthcare to the public.
Amazon healthcare, or Amazon Care, will offer a virtual health clinic for employees and their families in the Greater Seattle area.
Benefits of this pilot program include website or in-app video visits with a doctor, nurse practitioner, or registered nurse. Once you’ve discussed your health concerns with this provider, they can offer you advice, diagnose you, refer you to a specialist, or call in a prescription to your local pharmacy. If you need hands-on treatment, a mobile nurse can even be dispatched to your home. A nurse line is also available to patients 24/7.
In order to keep the business side of Amazon separate from Amazon healthcare, the company has contracted Oasis Medical to create a buffer and protect patients’ privacy.
Amazon said in a statement: “We’re currently piloting a healthcare benefit designed to help Amazon employees get fast access to healthcare without an appointment, at the convenience of their schedule, at their preferred location (home, office, or virtual). Amazon Care eliminates travel and wait time, connecting employees and their family members to a physician or nurse practitioner through live chat or video, with the option for an in-person follow up service from a registered nurse ranging from immunizations to instant strep throat detection.”
Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, will launch a pilot healthcare program for its employees next year. The program intends to provide easier access and better healthcare, but a large incentive of the program is to spend less money on employees’ healthcare.
This launch comes after years of criticism that Walmart mistreats its employees. However, Walmart is currently in the process of expanding its paternal leave policy as well as relaxing its dress code.
In addition, Walmart is also launching a program with “personal online doctors” to help employees who live with chronic pain conditions to treat them and help them coordinate their care. This program will begin with employees in Colorado, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
Walmart already has a program called the Centers of Excellence, which flies employees to facilities like the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for advice on major surgeries like whether or not to have heart or spinal surgery. Next year, Walmart will add kidney transplants to this list.