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Walmart Is Quietly Slowing the Expansion of This Service

The company has had to pause its ambitious efforts due to more pressing priorities.

Walmart hoped to add convenient health centers to thousands of the store's locations after opening the first in September 2019, but now operations are slowing, according to new evidence.

The company said these health centers—with their own entrances accessible from existing Walmart parking lots—will be a one-stop-shop for things like x-rays, dental exams, counseling, $40 primary care visits, $4 generic drugs, and more for around 90% of all Americans who live 10 miles from a Walmart, even if they aren't insured. Some of these are patients who live in areas without access to affordable healthcare. (Related: Grocery Shortages To Expect in 2021, According to Experts.)

The initial plan was to open 4,000 clinics by 2029, according to Business Insider, to rival pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens. However, eight current or former Walmart employees spoke with the website and revealed info about the plans and how they have seemingly stalled.

Currently, there are around 4,700 Walmart locations around the country, and many are focusing efforts on the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 vaccine rollout at 1,000 locations, as well as adding fulfillment centers to dozens of stores. More recently, hundreds of Walmart stores were closed due to severe winter weather in the midwest and southern parts of the country.

In September 2020, one year after the first Walmart Health opened in Dallas, Ga., the grocery chain said they would have around 22 open in early 2021, but so far, there are only 20 in Georgia, Illinois, and Arkansas. Employees say Walmart doesn't have a clear plan for how many it wants to finalize this year, even though it is still a priority. Some say 15 will open in Florida, half of what Walmart initially planned. One employee added that the grocery chain is waiting for a core strategy for the rollout to be finalized.

Despite the slowdown, the grocery chain insists the setbacks aren't deterring any of its plans for the company's success.

"Walmart customers want high quality, preventative, affordable, and accessible healthcare and they trust Walmart to provide it," a spokesperson, Marilee McInnis, told Business Insider. "Even during this difficult year, we launched Walmart Insurance Services, acquired CareZone technology to accelerate our digital offerings, elevated our top Health and Wellness leadership position, and increased our focus on racial equity in health care."

For more on what the grocery chain is up to lately, here are 8 Major Changes Walmart Is Making Now. And to get all the latest Walmart news delivered right to your email inbox every day, sign up for our newsletter!

Amanda McDonald
Amanda has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in digital journalism from Loyola University Chicago. Read more about Amanda