Major surgery on rollback at Walmart

Walmart is introducing a first-of-its-kind Centers of Excellence program that will offer its associates quality health care with no out-of-pocket cost for heart, spine and transplant surgeries at six of the leading hospital and health systems in the United States.

The six designated health care organizations include the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland; Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa.; Mayo Clinic sites in Rochester, Minn., Scottsdale/Phoenix, Ariz., and Jacksonville, Fla.; Mercy Hospital Springfield in Springfield, Mo; Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas; and Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle.

"We devoted extensive time developing Centers of Excellence in order to improve the quality of care our associates' receive," said Sally Welborn, SVP global benefits at Walmart. "We have identified six renowned healthcare systems that meet the highest quality standards for heart, spine and transplant surgery. Through these hospital systems, our associates will have no out-of-pocket expenses and a greater peace of mind knowing they are receiving exceptional care from a facility that specializes in the procedure they require. This is the first time a retailer has offered a comprehensive, nationwide program for heart, spine and transplant surgery."

The new Centers of Excellence program is being expanded from covering transplants, which began with the Mayo Clinic in 1996, to include treatment for certain heart and spine surgeries. Walmart's associates and their dependents who are enrolled in the company's medical plans will receive consultations and care covered at 100% without deductible or coinsurance, plus travel, lodging and food for the patient and a caregiver.

In providing this service at no cost to its enrolled associates, Walmart has worked with these Centers of Excellence health systems to provide exclusive and unique bundled pricing arrangements for these types of procedures. Through Centers of Excellence, Walmart is working with all the healthcare organizations to collectively share best practices that will allow collaboration around best measures of service and new industry findings in comparison with industry practices.

Lowe’s embarked on a similar venture with the Cleveland Clinic, which provides major heart surgery for any full-time employee or dependent enrolled in the company’s self-insured medical plan. Those needing the procedure travel to Cleveland with a companion, and Lowe’s covers all co-pays, deductibles and travel expenses, according to a report on

Lowe’s has negotiated a flat rate for various procedures with the Cleveland Clinic, which ranks among the top cardiac care centers in the United States. At the time of the report, Lowe’s and the Cleveland Clinic may consider expanding their partnership to include back and spine treatments.

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