Big box retailers Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Lowe’s announced Tuesday (Oct. 8) they have signed on to provide their insured employees and covered dependents knee and hip replacement surgeries at no cost when they are done at one four facilities in the U.S.
The retailers have aligned with Pacific Business Group on Health Negotiating Alliance (PBGH-NA) to launch a national "Employers Centers of Excellence Network" for this program.
“These companies are working to help make sure that their employees get higher quality care and incur lower costs,” said David Lansky, president and chief executive officer of PBGH. “The Employers Centers of Excellence Network is designed to serve as a model for delivering high quality health care with transparent and predictable costs.”
The four designated center of excellence health care organizations include Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, Md.; Kaiser Permanente Orange County Irvine Medical Center in Irvine, Calif.; Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Mo.; and Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Wash.
The program will include treatment for knee and hip replacement surgeries for the more than 1.5 million employees and their dependents enrolled in Wal-Mart’s, Lowe’s and other large employers’ medical plans.
Employees will receive consultations and care covered at 100% without deductible or coinsurance, plus travel, lodging and living expenses for the patient and a caregiver. Patients must be healthy enough to travel for the surgeries. The program is voluntary and employees or their covered dependents can still choose to receive care from local providers and incur routine costs.
“This national program is about providing our associates with exceptional care and reducing their medical costs so that they pay nothing out of pocket when they use one of the designated facilities,” said Sally Welborn, senior vice president of global benefits at Walmart. ”Each of these providers has a proven record of practicing evidence-based medicine with above average positive patient outcomes in knee and hip replacement procedures.”
Tuesday’s announcement builds on the programs already in place at Wal-Mart and Lowe’s.
In 2013, Wal-Mart expanded its long-standing program covering transplants at the Mayo Clinic to also include treatment for certain heart and spine surgeries at five leading hospital and health systems in the U.S., including Virginia Mason and Mercy Springfield, for associates and their covered dependents enrolled in medical plans.
In 2010, Lowe’s began an alliance with Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, to provide its full-time employees and their covered dependents enrolled in the company’s self-funded medical plans enhanced benefits coverage for qualifying heart surgery procedures.