Have you been considering the impact of Health Care Reform (Obamacare) on your practice? The dramatic re-organization of the U.S. health care system starts becoming visible today, October 1st, 2013. Forbes’s just published this summary article, 4 Ways new Exchanges Will Radically Alter Health Insurance, in which they succinctly predict the transformation of medical care in the next handful of years. That transformation formally starts today, when Health Insurance Exchanges go public with alternative insurance options for U.S. citizens in various groups.
Obamacare has arrived and may need more attention by mental health providers. One of the manifestations we may want to note is the mental health entry point of many previously unsuspected telehealth players. Some very large companies are lining up to seize the sizeable opportunities afforded by automation and the Internet in mental health. Walmart is a prime example.
The news of Walmart’s plan for entering, if not dominating healthcare has been available for months. In their January 2013 article, entitled, Walmart’s new plan: ‘Full primary care services’ within seven years, the Advisory Board Company made it quite clear that large players like Walmart will seize the opportunity by making services available that will not only rival, but more than likely, win the allegiance of patients who prefer the convenience of using the Internet to reach their care givers.
With mental health clients and patients still struggling with the stigma and embarrassment of requiring clients/patients to accept a mental health diagnosis to receive reimburseable healthcare, we can all see where this is going. De-stigmatize mental health, make it more affordable, make it accessible from any consumer’s desktop computer or mobile device, and consumers will soon line up to get the help they’ve been reluctant to seek for years.
In a more recent article entitled, “Are You Ready to Compete with Walmart?” the Advisory Board Company just published a pivotal piece about Walmart and how it is not only possible, but in fact, intended to disrupt traditional referral networks. Other articles of potential interest might include: Why retailers like Walmart are eying primary care and How hospitals can set up retail clinic partnerships.
Dare we say it?
Will Walmart serve as a private health insurance exchange? Will they hire us as mental health professionals? The Orlando Business Journal reported Walmart’s plan to explore new, low-cost health insurance options tailored for small companies in January of 2012 in Wal-Mart exploring private health insurance exchange for small biz. Walmart’s purchasing power and PR resources (see Wal-Mart plans to offer primary care in 5-7 years) may lend themselves quite readily to developing low-cost insurance options for consumers who trust the Walmart brand to deliver value and convenience.
Hold onto your hat – things are just about to start changing quickly.