Walmart, UnitedHealth Group brings multiple behavioral health resources to the new 10-year VBC partnership

Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) will launch a value-based care model at 15 Walmart Health locations in January 2023.

The two titans of their respective industries announced Wednesday that the new 10-year partnership will serve “hundreds of thousands” of seniors with Medicare Advantage (MA) plans.

Behavioral health will be a key part of the deal.

Walmart Health’s core services include behavioral and community health care workers, along with a range of outpatient health care services, a spokesperson told Behavioral Health Business in an email. Additionally, through its subsidiaries, UnitedHealth Group can bring many behavioral health resources to the table.

Additionally, both companies are seeking to offer comprehensive patient services to achieve greater patient convenience and value for the care provided.

UnitedHealth Group did not respond to a request from BHB for further comment.

“We are on a journey to transform healthcare by connecting more people to the right care at the right time, at a sensible cost,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in the announcement. “This collaboration puts the patient at the center of healthcare, leveraging the strength and complementary skills of our two companies to accelerate access to quality care.”

The partnership will involve 15 Walmart Health locations in Florida and Georgia. Walmart Health also operates in Arkansas and Illinois. In total, Walmart Health lists 19 locations.

It will also involve Walmart Health’s telemedicine service, Walmart Health Virtual Care, which was created following Walmart Health’s acquisition of the multi-specialty telemedicine service provider MeMD based in Phoenix, Arizona.

Through its Optum health and business services entity, UnitedHealth Group will provide Walmart Health vendors with technology tools for analysis and decision support. The services are intended to enhance Walmart’s team-based care model by allowing physicians to focus more on patient outcomes, the announcement says.

“UnitedHealth Group and Walmart share a deep commitment to high-quality and affordable primary care services that address all of a patient’s health needs in ways that are convenient for them and improve health outcomes,” said Andrew Witty, CEO of UnitedHealth Group .

The deal will also include a co-branded MA plan in Georgia called UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage Walmart Flex (HMO-POS). It will likewise allow UnitedHealthcare’s PPO Choice Plus plan to access Walmart Health Virtual Care.

Walmart is building complete clinics in or near its supercenters. They offer primary care, labs, X-rays and ECGs, behavioral health and counseling, dental, optical, hearing and other services, according to the Walmart Health webpage.

Specifically for behavioral health, Walmart Health lists counseling services for several areas including depression, anxiety, stress, pain, and relationship problems. Some locations also offer psychiatric services.

Walmart Health also lists individual, family, and group counseling, as well as treatment for ADHD and alcohol use.

Walmart Health announced in April that it would integrate behavioral health services into its new diabetes management program to address comorbid conditions. That same month, it announced five new Walmart Health locations in Florida.

Meanwhile, Optum has been an active buyer of many health care-related companies, including several behavioral health organizations.

In March, Optum acquired burgeoning outpatient mental health provider Refresh Mental Health. Prior to that deal, Optum had already acquired the New York City-based company’s mental health startup AbleTo for $ 470 million and invested in virtual mental health provider Mindstrong.

UnitedHealth Group’s Witty told investors and analysts about United’s Q1 2022 earnings call that the Refresh Mental Health deal “fits perfectly with that value-based proposition in terms of how we believe we need to support management. from behavioral health to medical management “.

Refresh “also excellently complements our largest behavioral health network that we already have across the country on the business benefit side,” added Witty.

As for behavioral health, the bottom line is that Walmart and UnitedHealth Group have secured a new long-term test case to see how their collection of health services can compete with each other to address the health of the whole person.

And when the two companies are successful, they will be able to grow rapidly.

“Clearly, these two organizations will have the ability to vastly scale anything that appears to work well,” explains a note from Stephens’ analyst.

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