Sam’s Club members in three states will soon be able to see a physician right from their phones at any hour of the day for just $1 per session.
The perk is thanks to a pilot in Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina that Walmart-owned Sam’s Club is rolling out with Seattle-based telemedicine startup 98point6 and health insurance giant Humana.
Despite the unwieldy title — it’s called the Sam’s Club Care Accelerator Together with Humana — the program is meant to provide simple, transparent and affordable healthcare services. Starting next month, members will have access to primary care, dental, optical and alternative medicine for an annual fee.
98point6 operates a chat and video-based healthcare app that combines artificial intelligence with physicians who communicate with patients in real-time. By using AI to streamline the patient intake and documentation process, the startup aims to lower healthcare costs.
Earlier this year, 98point6 inked a similar partnership with health plan Banner|Aetna and is being used by three universities, including the University of Arizona, which offers the service for free.
“All of these organizations are taking the long view,” said 98point6 CEO Robbie Cape. “The existing models for primary care are just not working.”
It may seem strange to see anything in healthcare priced as free or $1 per visit, but studies have shown that increased investment in primary care may reduce overall healthcare costs and better outcomes.
Sam’s Club’s Care Accelerator service isn’t health insurance. Instead, it’s billed as a “discount medical program” in which members buy bundles that range from $50 to $240 per year for up to six family members.
Sam’s Club said it is tailoring the program to people in high-deductible plans or small business owners. For those customers, it may be cheaper to access care through the program than going to through their own insurance.
In addition to the telemedicine service, other perks include free generic medications, discounted dental service through providers affiliated with Humana, and savings on eye exams and optical products. The highest-level service includes discounts on chiropractic, massage therapy and acupuncture, as well as on hearing aids.
Here’s a full breakdown of what members will get with each healthcare bundle.