BENTONVILLE, Ark. — This weekend, Walmart is making another pitch to consumers to come to its stores for their health care needs.
On Saturday, Oct. 15, more than 4,600 Walmart stores nationwide are slated to host Walmart Wellness Day, in which the retail giant said that for a four-hour period “nearly everyone in America” will have access to free health screenings, education, services and products.
The event, to start at 4 p.m., will provide free blood glucose, blood pressure, vision screenings (where available), product samples and information on health insurance options. More than 10,000 Walmart pharmacists also will offer immunizations at all of the retailer’s U.S. pharmacies.
And for the third straight year, Walmart is working with DirectHealth.com to help customers identify their health insurance needs, compare plans and enroll. The customer open enrollment program for Medicare and Affordable Care Act plans, dubbed “Healthcare Begins Here,” will be available Oct. 15, 2016, to Jan. 31, 2017, in more than 2,300 Walmart stores, online and via phone.
Described as the nation’s largest single-day health event with free health screenings, Walmart Wellness Day continues — and brings a new name to — the “America’s Biggest Health Fair” event that Walmart held last October. The company noted that the health fair benefited hundreds of thousands of people, some took a proactive role in their health for the first time.
“The cost of health care in America has risen to more than $3 trillion, but the health of our customers is something we can’t put a price on,” George Riedl, senior vice president and president of health and wellness at Walmart U.S., said in a statement. “As more than 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store, we’re committed and uniquely positioned to providing accessible and affordable health care that helps busy families live better. Walmart Wellness Day is at the center of that commitment.”
Walmart noted that last year’s one-day health fair beat five world records, including more than 280,000 blood pressure, glucose and vision screenings; nearly 52,000 vaccinations administered; more than 2 million free samples of healthier foods distributed; almost 3,000 customers advised to visit a health care professional based on their blood glucose screening results; and more than 7,000 reports of high blood pressure detected.
“These screenings provide customers with a basic yet vital understanding of their general health conditions and ways to improve it,” Riedl stated.
The company said the health screenings can have life-saving results. For example, at last year’s health fair, a Walmart pharmacy manager in Everett, Pa., reported that one patient’s readings “were so alarming that she went immediately to the emergency room, where she was treated for a hypertensive emergency. Her family, her doctors and the patient were all extremely grateful for Walmart’s clinical intervention. It was truly gratifying to see how we can really make a difference in patients’ lives every day.”
Walmart has emphasized that it’s a major consumer health care destination not just because of its reach but also its breadth of wellness offerings. The retailer operates more than 5,100 pharmacies in its stores and has Care Clinic walk-in medical clinics, vision centers and a comprehensive assortment of preventive health care and well-being products, spanning such categories as grocery, electronics, sporting goods, home, apparel and consumables in stores and online.
“Our commitment to this doesn’t end in our Health and Wellness area,” added Riedl. “We have many of the products customers need to start or continue their journey to a healthy lifestyle, such as fresh produce, apparel, exercise equipment and wearable technology.”
During Walmart Wellness Day, companies such as GoJo, Pfizer, US Nutrition, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Clorox, Kleenex, Dannon, Kellogg’s, Mars, Vega will be in stores providing customers with free product samples. Other sponsors of the event include Trividia, Bausch & Lomb, Becton Dickinson, Bayer, 3M, Reckitt-Benckiser, Zeiss, Traditional Medicinals, Iovate, Equal, True Science, Boomchickapop, Prestige, Enjoy Life Foods, Voortman Cookies and Amneal.