Walmart and Emory Healthcare have partnered to launch an ACO to serve Walmart employees in the Atlanta metropolitan area.
The companies said the partnership between the retail giant and the health system is intended to lower overall costs and improve the quality of care.
Under the partnership, which took effect Jan. 1, about 10,800 employees at 55 Walmart and Sam's Clubs locations in the Atlanta metro area can select Emory Accountable Care Plan as their primary health plan. Beneficiaries have access to more than 2,000 physicians in the Emory Healthcare Network. Members are charged copayments for primary, specialist, and urgent care, but preventive care services are available at no cost. Members enrolled in the Emory ACO also have access to certain weight-loss and cardiac surgeries at no out-of-pocket costs.
In addition, Walmart has designated Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital and Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center one its national Centers of Excellence for spine and joint replacement surgery. Under Walmart's Centers of Excellence (COE) program, designated facilities receive fixed bundled payments for certain spine and joint replacement surgeries. Employees enrolled in any Walmart-sponsored health plan can have surgery at a COE at no out-of-pocket costs. Walmart also covers travel-related costs for those employees.
Partnership could signal industry shift
The partnership between Walmart and Emory Healthcare could indicate a shift in how the health care industry views newcomers, with health systems and hospitals beginning to view retailers as potential collaborators, HealthLeaders Media reports.
Emory Healthcare Network CEO Patrick Hammond said, "More and more large, self-insured employers like Walmart are looking for new and creative solutions as a potential way to decrease costs of health care plans for employees, while improving the overall quality of the care."
Lisa Woods, senior director of health care benefits for Walmart's U.S. operations, said the partnership with Emory Healthcare is a logical move, because the company is always looking for ways to support its workers and ensure they have access to appropriate care. Woods said, "Not only does Emory offer a quality provider network, but Emory has also been a great partner in supporting payment reform initiatives" (Porter, HealthLeaders Media, 4/20; Modern Healthcare, 4/20).
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