Walmart Announces Closure Of Some Health Centers

After just two years of operation, retail giant Walmart has announced the closure of all 51 of its Walmart Health centers and related telehealth services. This decision, which was made public on Tuesday, comes as a surprise to many, as the company had been actively expanding its healthcare offerings in recent years.

The Arkansas-based retailer first opened its Walmart Health centers in 2019, with the goal of making healthcare more accessible and affordable to the general public. These centers offered a variety of services including primary care, dental care, and mental health services, among others. However, the company has now stated that these services are no longer sustainable from a financial standpoint.

In a statement, Walmart cited a “challenging reimbursement environment” and “escalating operating costs” as the primary reasons for the closures. The company acknowledged that the decision was a difficult one, but ultimately their healthcare business was not profitable enough to continue.

While Walmart is known for its large network of retail stores, the company has been expanding its healthcare capabilities in recent years. This includes over 4,600 pharmacies and more than 3,000 vision centers, which will remain open despite the closure of the Walmart Health centers. In fact, the company has been actively expanding these capabilities, offering services such as immunizations, testing and treatment options, and access to specialty pharmacy medication.

One of the main reasons for the closures, according to Walmart, is the lack of profitability in the healthcare business. This is surprising to many, as the company has been actively expanding its healthcare offerings in recent years. However, Walmart has acknowledged that the reimbursement environment in the healthcare industry is challenging, and operating costs for their clinics have been escalating.

Despite the closures, Walmart remains committed to providing healthcare options to the public. The company has stated that it will continue to offer healthcare services through its pharmacies and vision centers. In fact, it has recently expanded its optical capabilities, with over 200 new Vision Centers under Walmart ownership and the launch of virtual try-ons for customers.

Another aspect of the closures that has received attention is the impact on employees. Walmart has stated that affected workers will be eligible to transfer to any other Walmart or Sam’s Club store. The company has also committed to paying their wages for 90 days unless they transfer to another store or decide to leave the company. After 90 days, employees who have not transferred or left will be eligible for severance packages.

The closures of the Walmart Health centers and related telehealth services will have an impact on the communities where these facilities currently operate. Walmart has acknowledged that over 4,000 of its locations are in medical provider shortage areas, and the closure of these centers may leave a gap in access to healthcare for residents in these areas. However, the company maintains that its pharmacies and vision centers will still provide crucial healthcare services to these communities.

Walmart has not yet specified when the closures will take place, but it has stated that it will announce the dates as soon as decisions are made. This news has raised questions about the future of retail involvement in the healthcare industry, and whether other companies may also struggle to make healthcare profitable. As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, it remains to be seen what impact this decision will have on both Walmart and the broader industry.


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