Sam’s Club Offers Discount Health Services

Discussion
Mar 08, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Members of 552 Sam’s Clubs nationwide now will have access to discounts of up to 50 percent on a variety of medical and dental services through UnitedHealth Group’s HealthAllies
program.

According to a joint press release from Sam’s Club and UnitedHealth, “healthcare affordability is the #1 issue facing small businesses.” The Census Bureau estimates more than
43 million Americans have no health insurance coverage.

Cara Kinzey, vice president of membership for Sam’s Club, said, “We recognize that operating efficiency and employee retention are vital to the success of small businesses. The
HealthAllies discount program is a cost-effective way to help make quality health care more affordable for small businesses and their employees.”

Moderator’s Comment: Will we see more retailers following suit and offering discount health services?

Sam’s Club Plus Members can enroll in the program for free while other members will pay a fee.
George Anderson – Moderator

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9 Comments on "Sam’s Club Offers Discount Health Services"


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Michael Richmond, Ph.D.
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Michael Richmond, Ph.D.
15 years 8 months ago

Good effort on Sam’s part but another big problem out there is the small business owner. I think they ought to offer the program to small business owners as a new SKU! How about that for innovation? After all, they are focused on that segment.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
15 years 8 months ago

Subsequent to my comments, I’ve been clued in that Costco also offers a medical discount card and a discounted health insurance program – the latter is only available in some states. David’s point is well taken; a discount is only a discount if it covers your health care providers, so the benefit will vary by individual. But, any assistance small businesses and consumers can get in reducing medical costs has got to be a good thing.

Art Williams
Guest
Art Williams
15 years 8 months ago

I have to echo Al’s comments as we too are Costco supporters and have recently dropped our membership to Sam’s. This is a very positive move to help offset the healthcare crisis and Wal-Mart is to be congratulated for taking this initiative. I hope that it generates a wealth of imitation. I want to know more about this but it could be enough to reconsider our Sam’s membership if it is as good as it sounds.

Ian Percy
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

The goal is to ‘own’ the customer and to do that, big companies like Sam’s and you-know-who will continue to offer more and more comprehensive services like health care. Keep in mind that Sam’s’ executives are not all weepy because so many people don’t have coverage – if there wasn’t substantial money in the initiative you wouldn’t hear anything about it.

A few days ago there was a piece in RetailWire about Wal-Mart buying its energy direct, all while denying any interest in getting into the sale of utilities itself. I said then, and I’ll say again, they and others will indeed get into anything that encircles the customer. If they can create dependency, so much the better. In psychology we regard such an outcome as unhealthy; but since we’re now able to get health coverage…

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
15 years 8 months ago

What a great idea! As a small business owner, and a die-hard Costco loyalist, this stops me in my tracks. As far as I know, Costco has nothing similar, but I assume they will soon. According to the press release this is complementary to health insurance, which is even better. Organizations like Costco, BJ’s, AAA, AARP, etc. are in great positions to pool their members and offer them programs like this. Kudo’s to Sam’s for this initiative.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
15 years 8 months ago

This is a great idea, if only for the prospect of witnessing the irresistible negotiation power of Sam’s Club (i.e., Wal-Mart) attack the implacable resistance of insurance companies and other healthcare middlemen. What the government has been unable to achieve for years, Sam’s Club could achieve with applied capitalist marketplace pressures.

David Livingston
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

Actually, I am very skeptical. My guess is that the discounted services could only be used with a select few providers who have overpriced services. The article states they are for services not provided by medical insurance. I would be willing to wager that I could personally go into any one of those providers and talk them into giving me a better rate than what Sam’s Club members would get. If they will give Sam’s Club members 50%, then they will give everyone 50% for the asking. Fifty percent off is the real regular price.

It wasn’t that long ago that you could buy a car at Sam’s for $100 over invoice. Big deal; any car dealer would be tickled pink to do that.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

Oops, I think our resident Cynic in Chief has tossed a very good point in amongst all the euphoria. Discounts are valuable only if they bring the price below what you would be willing or expect to pay anyway. Fifty percent off something that has an inflated price to begin with could easily turn into the same as full price somewhere else. Personally, I never have and never will shop at Harrods whether they have a sale on or not; either way, their prices are well beyond my means.

Franklin Benson
Guest
Franklin Benson
15 years 8 months ago

You got it backwards: Sam’s (and Costco’s) “full price” is like the “50% percent off” everywhere else.

My understanding is that the plans are supplemental insurance and not meant to take the place of a primary policy. Companies in that business that have high marketing costs (I’m thinking of a quacking duck that says the name of the company during many comedic misadventures) may be quaking in their boots, but until Sam’s and Costco spend a little money of their own advertising the product, the only people that will know about it are that subset of customers who diligently read all of the brochures and signage in Sam’s and Costco.

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