Next month, Sam’s Club plans to begin testing a program that offers members bundles of health care services — including medical, pharmacy, dental and vision care — for a low annual fee.
Called Sam’s Club Care Accelerator Together with Humana, the program aims to provide access to affordable options and transparent pricing on basic health services, the Walmart warehouse club chain said Thursday. Members will be able to choose from four health bundles ranging from $50 to $240 per year.
Plans call for Bentonville, Ark.-based Sam’s to pilot Care Accelerator in Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina starting in early October. In announcing the program, Senior Vice President of Health & Wellness Lori Flees said Sam’s could expand the offering to all members in the future.
“Navigating the health care system is expensive. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average dollar contribution for health care for families has increased 21% since 2013 and 65% since 2008. At the same time, 67% of Americans say it is difficult to determine what a treatment or procedure will cost,” Flees said in a blog post on Thursday. “The Care Accelerator is designed to solve these problems, especially for our members who shoulder a higher burden of health care costs, like small-business owners or those with high-deductible plans. Through a series of bundled health care services, members will save money on their most common health care service needs, including primary care, dental, optical and alternative medicine.”
Sam’s noted that Care Accelerator is a discount health program — not a health insurance plan — and members will have to pay the care provider the designated rate at the time of service. Partners in the program include health insurer Humana, which already offers Medicare Part D prescription drug plans under a partnership with Walmart, and 98point6, which provides on-demand, subscription-based primary care services via a mobile app.
To use Care Accelerator, members go online to www.samsclub.com/care and select a health care bundle. Options include Starter A and B bundles that each cost $50 a year, a Standard bundle for $100 a year and a Premium bundle for $240 a year.
The Starter A bundle offers free common generic drugs at Sam’s pharmacies, unlimited $1 telehealth visits through 98point6, $60 eye exams and 20% off eyewear at Sam’s optical centers and a $5 prepaid health debit cards to be used within the health services network. The Starter B option has the same services as the A bundle but replaces the telehealth visits with discounted dental care via a Humana provider network.
For the Standard bundle, members get a $40 prepaid health card plus all of the services in the A and B options. The top-tier Premium package includes the Standard bundle plus a $100 prepaid health card, free preventive health screenings, up to 30% off alternative medicine and 10% off hearing aids at Sam’s.
The number of free generics ranges from five to 20, depending on the bundle. Sam’s currently has 572 pharmacies in its 599 clubs, including Puerto Rico. The company noted that the prepaid health cards lower members’ total investment to $45, $60 or $140 based on the option selected.
Designed as a family option for members, the $240-per-year Premium bundle covers up to six people. The preventive lab screenings measure key health indicators for early detection of heart disease and diabetes, while the alternative medicine services provider a discount on chiropractic, massage therapy and acupuncture.
Sam’s said the Starter A and B bundles offer up to a $400 savings, and the Standard and Premium options offer respective savings of up to $600 and $1,100.
“Access to high-quality maintenance health care has been shown to improve overall, long-term health,” Flees said. “We believe this program will help our members decrease out-of-pocket costs so they can better manage their budgets and their health. We’ll use member feedback to add new benefits and features to our Care Accelerator offering.”