Wholesale retail giant Costco has begun to offer healthcare to its members through Sesame, a service that enables patients to directly contact and pay their physicians. Through Sesame, Costco will offer virtual primary care visits at US$29 and mental healthcare at US$79, along with a 10% discount.
Sesame’s business model is centered around “bringing marketplace dynamics to consumer healthcare for the first time,” creating a platform where providers compete to serve patients, regardless of their insurance status. “The resulting competition lowers the price of care, drives complete price transparency, provides ready access to health providers (the majority of appointments on Sesame take place within two hours) and ensures a high-quality consumer experience with top-rated providers.”
Costco boasts approximately 125 million members worldwide, including 5 million in Mexico, although it generates roughly 70% of its sales in the US.
Other retailers have also venture into the vast US$12 trillion worldwide healthcare industry. Walmart, for example, has opened in-store clinics and made investments in primary care provider ChenMed. Amazon, on the other hand, acquired One Medical for US$3.5 billion. Kroger and Best Buy also have healthcare divisions.
“With the option to bring healthcare into their home, Costco members will have access to care in a setting that’s right for them, along with the ability to develop long-term doctor-patient relationships with a Sesame provider,” said Sesame in a press release.
Currently, the healthcare marketplace boasts over 10,000 doctors and specialists on its platform with more than 100,000 patients treated and an average savings of 60% per appointment.
In Mexico, this type of service is not yet available but the opportunity exists. Individual insurance for individuals under 30 years ranges from MX$10,000 (US$573.12) to MX$23,000 (US$1318.18) per year. Additionally, medical consultations without insurance can cost anywhere from MX$300 (US$17.19) to over MX$1,000 (US$57.31).