Calling Dr. Wally World...
...Dr. Wally World to the operating room.
I'm expecting to hear that any minute now on the rare occasion that I can stand to walk into a Wal-Mart. In case you hadn't heard, or didn't know (I didn't), Wal-Mart has clinics on site in some locations where you can get emergency care. The latest addon to the Wal-Mart "family" is a nurse practioner that will enable parents to, for the low Wal-Mart value of $45, have a pediatric check-up for their children.
I don't know about you but I find it odd that someone could have a conversation with their spouse that could sound like this:
"Honey, we need to go to Wal-Mart today."
"Well, I do need a new set of tires for the truck.."
"Yes, there's that, and we need milk, they're selling the latest Justin Timberlake album for $12.88 and I want to get that for Susie, and Bobby is overdue for his shots, and we can do it all at Wal-Mart!"
Scary, isn't it? Tires and shots all at the same time. I suppose that could be the epitome of easy errand running, but it could also be a case for the laziness of Americans not wanting to bother running around to multiple places to take care of multiple things. And corporations like Wal-Mart bet on that with low prices for some things, and slightly higher prices for others (or markups on things that are still bargains but raise the margins) that people are willing to pay because they can buy it all in one place.
That's not to say that you couldn't get a good checkup at a Wal-Mart, but somehow I feel better about going into a place where there are doctors in white coats and on the other side of the wall are more doctors and patients, and not the photo center or the tire and lube service.
Granted, this would be a great thing for people who are poor or don't have adequate health care coverage. $45 a visit is a steal - if you have the $45 for the visit and aren't counting the prescriptions that you might walk away with. Or anything else you might need, which I'm sure they can direct you to aisle 17 where the bandages or the salves are located.
Many folks have complained in the past about the rising costs of health care and how corporations are running our hospitals to be profitable businesses instead of, well, hospitals. But what happens when a corporation actually *becomes* a hospital? That's what I'm afraid of with Wal-Mart. They've already realized that they're pretty saturated in the United States, and they've realized that China is a good place to continue the Wal-Mart dynasty (considering that they've already failed to expand in Europe, they might not be cut out for international expansion) and they're going to try and get as much as they can out of the market they have in the United States.
This means they'll try new things and new tactics - they failed at online DVD rentals (oh boy did they fail). They failed at being an ISP. They've tried locking in employees overnight, citing it was for safety (and shrinkage reduction) in bad areas when some stores weren't in bad areas at all (and medical care was necessary for some inside, and one employee died because the doors were chained). They're already resorting to what amounts to blackmail with the motion picture studios by telling them that if there will be "serious ramifications" if they pair up with folks who are providing movie download services. Wal-Mart buys and sells a lot of discounted DVD's - and there is going to be a market for that for years to come until everyone in the world has access to fast downloading with broad bandwidth. It's not going to happen tomorrow. But threatening the studios is one good way to ensure that renegotiation on the contracts is going to be sticky on both sides.
They're going to continue trying new things and "re-inventing" themselves to keep the profits high for the founding family and the major shareholders. Never mind what the employees or customers need although I know there are some Wal-Mart sheeple out there, and I know that there are some that only have a Wal-Mart and don't have a lot of other choice in the matter. Wal-Mart isn't going to do things that make sense either, but I think they've already traveled past that point. But maybe having on site health care at Wally World will be a good thing for everyone...
...especially if anyone suffers a heart attack after eating at the on-site McDonald's.