Sep 26, 2023 - Health

Costco joins retail push into primary care with $29 telehealth visits

Illustration of a caduceus with a price tag

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Costco is joining big retailers' push into primary care by offering members $29 telehealth visits, as well as lab testing and virtual mental health services.

The big picture: It's part of a broad effort to use digital tools to create more customizable patient experiences that's also drawn the likes of Amazon, Walmart, CVS and Dollar General.

  • The retailers believe they're better positioned to tap into consumers' tastes — and frustrations with the traditional health system.

What's happening: Costco is teaming with the online platform Sesame to offer same-day $29 virtual primary care visits with no wait times.

  • A standard lab panel and consult will cost $72, while a virtual therapy visit will be $79. Costco members could start booking services on Monday in every state.
  • Sesame operates outside of insurance networks, catering to people with high-deductible plans who pay out of pocket for basic care and to the uninsured.

What they're saying: "Quality, great value, and low price are what the Costco brand is known for," Sesame co-founder and CEO David Goldhill said in a statement. "When it comes to health care, Sesame also delivers high quality and great value — and a low price that will be appreciated by Costco members when it comes to their own care."

Zoom out: Just this year, Amazon acquired the primary care company One Medical while Walmart said it would nearly double the footprint of its in-store clinics.

  • Walgreens recently announced that it's teaming up with Pearl Health, which has a platform to help enable value-based care, to speed collaborations with primary care physicians.

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