Walmart wants to cut healthcare costs for customers

Walmart is exploring ways to reduce healthcare costs for its employees and customers, according to CNBC.

Insuring its 2.2 million workers is Walmart's second-largest expense on its profit and loss statement, behind wages, said Lori Flees, senior vice president and general merchandising manager for health and wellness at Sam's Club and lead principal for Store No. 8, Walmart's incubation arm, at the Manova Summit in Minneapolis.

Rising healthcare costs are also cutting into Walmart's business because customers are spending more of their income on medical care and medicine than on retail goods.

"So these are the things that drive us to be interested in healthcare: Our customers need help. Our associates need and want to be healthy. And it's good for our business," Ms. Flees said.

She said partnerships are "an essential part" of Walmart's strategy to lower healthcare costs.

"If you take the expertise that lies in the industry and you combine it with Walmart's footprint, it really is an opportunity to have a positive impact at scale," she said.

Walmart has already partnered with health plans to encourage customers to buy healthier foods at Walmart. The retailer also operates 19 health clinics, hosts health screening events and offers pharmacies and vision centers. In addition, Walmart has entered into direct contracts with healthcare providers, including Cleveland Clinic and Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic, to help drive down healthcare costs and improve the quality of care employees receive for some conditions and procedures, according to CNBC.

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